State to seek federal funds for women's health program

Public hearing on women's health funding

AUSTIN -  After years of doing without, Texas is asking the federal government to resume funding for the state's women's health program – “Healthy Texas Women.”

The fight centers around abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood -- which the state currently does not fund.

In 2011, Texas lost millions in federal funds when state lawmakers voted to exclude abortion providers from its public health program for women.

Now, the state is submitting an application for a waiver that seeks to receive federal funds once again. But before the state does that, it is welcoming public comment.

During a public hearing Monday, the state's Health and Human Services commission heard from several women's health organizations -- like Planned Parenthood -- who oppose the state's recent move.

"If this waiver would be granted with the exclusion of Planned Parenthood, that really sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the states,” said Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. “We have already seen countless women lose access to care, because of the state's actions. That could happen in other states as well. We certainly don't want to see more women lose access to care."

The state’s current program provides women’s health and family planning services at no cost to eligible low-income Texas women.

By receiving federal funds once more, among the goals for its women’s health program would be:

·         Implement state policy to favor childbirth and family planning services that do not include elective abortions or promotion of elective abortions.

·         Increase access to women’s health services to avert unintended pregnancies, “positively affect the outcome of future pregnancies,” and “positively impact” the health and well-being of women and families.

Before the state submits its application to the federal government, it will hold three more public hearings until June. The public is also invited to submit comments until June 12. 

For more information on the waiver the state is applying for, go here. For information on how the federal government oversees it, go here.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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