The subject of women’s health care once again drew a crowd to the state capitol at the same time some lawmakers touted the progress made by the stated-funded Texas Women’s Healthcare Fund.
State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Dallas, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, said women’s health care in Texas is funded at record levels, serving more women than it ever has.
"Last session the Legislature prioritized women’s health and provided an additional $240 million to reach an additional 170,000 women," Nelson said.
But critics, like those rallying at the state capitol Thursday, say the state’s effort to reject federal dollars slated for women’s health care and a state-led effort to exclude groups like Planned Parenthood hurt Texas women.
In 2011 the Texas Legislature approved measures that rejected federal matching Medicaid dollars for women's health care and formed the Texas Women's Healthcare Fund that excluded groups known for providing abortion services.
State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio, said you don’t reduce abortions by minimizing access.
"So why don’t we focus on the little strategies that we can do: To make reproductive healthcare easier for women, family planning easier to access, sex education that’s actually accurate and helpful, and most of all, why don’t you just trust women," Van De Putte said.
This week’s hearing is a part of an interim charge that was requested following the final passage of House Bill 2, the state’s controversial abortion bill. It directs lawmakers to examine women’s access to reproductive services, especially in rural and underserved areas of the state.