The Texas House of Representatives passed a measure Friday night that would ban any state or local government from using taxpayer funds to partner with abortion providers, even for non-abortion services.
Senate Bill 22, authored by state Sen. Donna Campbell (R), would prohibit the state and local governments to contract with abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, for any services, including sex education and contraception initiatives.
The bill passed the GOP-led state Senate in April by a vote of 20-11.
The legislation would end “sweetheart rent deals,” such as one rental agreement between a Planned Parenthood facility, which does not provide abortions, with the city of Austin for $1 per year.
“If the local government is using taxpayer dollars for any type of contract with an abortion provider or affiliate, yes, this bill prohibits that transaction,” Campbell said, pointing to Planned Parenthood’s contract with Austin, since 1979, to rent a building for $1 per year with a 20-year extension.
“While they may not be doing abortions here, those dollars can still pass through to prop up the abortion industry, so this bill does inhibit local municipalities from contracting with an abortion facility,” she said.
“By even giving them $5 for a non-controversial service, the state is endorsing what they do,” said John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life.
The bill endured hours of debate in the state House and attempts by Democrats to amend it, but ultimately passed with a vote of 81-65.
— Candy Noble (@CandyNobleHD89) May 18, 2019
“This is a taxpayer protection bill,” said Republican Rep. Candy Noble, reported the Texas Tribune. “Taxpayers who oppose abortion should not have to see their tax dollars subsidizing the abortion industry.”
Noble introduced the House’s version of the bill, House Bill 1929.
An amendment added by Republican Rep. Jonathan Strickland that clarifies the measure would not restrict a city or county from actually banning abortions requires the Texas House to vote again before sending the legislation back to the state Senate. If approved in that chamber, the bill would head to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
“Senate Bill 22 has nothing to do with impacting abortion services,” said Democrat state Rep. Gina Hinojosa, reported the Tribune. “What Senate Bill 22 does is take aim at the routine and lifesaving healthcare services offered by Planned Parenthood.”
Texas lawmakers, however, have increased funding for state-run healthcare programs, such as Healthy Texas Women, which provides free or low-cost family planning services. Supporters of the legislation are seeking to divert women away from abortion clinics and their affiliates for health care and toward the state-run alternatives.