Texas Legislature Votes to Divert Family Planning Funds to Pro-Life Services

By Christopher Goins | April 8, 2011 | 4:01 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – Lawmakers in the Texas State Legislature recently voted to divert $61 million for family planning operations to more pro-life services, such as crisis pregnancy centers.

On April 1, the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 1, the biennial budget bill for fiscal year 2012-2013. It included eight amendments to divert the $61.4 million. Several Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, but many Democratic lawmakers opposed the amendments. HB 1 passed 98 to 49.

Rep. Mike Villarreal, a Democrat from District 123 (San Antonio), specifically opposed one amendment introduced by Rep. Randy Weber (Dist. 29, Matagorda) to restore funding to the state’s programs for alternatives to abortion. A spokesman from Villarreal’s office e-mailed CNSNews.com the representative’s statement explaining why he opposed the amendment.

Villarreal said: "I opposed the amendment because it took funding from a women's health program that reduces unplanned pregnancies, prevents abortions, and saves the taxpayers money.”

He continued: “I know we will have our disagreements, but we should be able to agree that reducing unplanned pregnancies is the most effective way to reduce abortions. I wish we could have a debate based on facts instead of the patently false statement that contraception does not reduce unplanned pregnancies."

The Weber amendment passed with a vote of 100 to 44 with two present-not-voting.

Two Republicans did not vote for the Weber amendment: Rep. Sarah Davis and Rep. Beverly Woolley. But four Democrats did vote for the amendment: Rep. Tracy King, Rep. J.M. Lozano, Rep. Mando Martinez, and Rep. Sergio Munoz.

According to spokesman for Rep. Randy Weber, a Republican, his amendment originally had $8.3 million in funds diverted, but because of an “amendment to an amendment,” $1 million of that was put it into early childhood development.

Seven other representatives put forth amendments that diverted funds to Early Childhood Intervention programs, EMS and trauma care, and Mental Health Services for Children Program, to programs that serve people with autism, and to entities that help those who are blind or suffering with multiple disabilities. 

The Bohac amendment redirected a total of $14.5 million to the Mental Health Services for Children Program. Another amendment redirected $6.6 million to autism services over two years, and yet another amendment redirected $71,773 each year to EMS and trauma care services.

The Miller amendment redirected $21 million over two years to Early Childhood Intervention programs. The Zedler amendment sent $1.793 million over two years to fund Deaf, Blind, and Multiple Disabilities services.

The Laubenberg amendment – supported by usually pro-abortion rights Rep. Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas) – redirected $9.16 million over two years to the STAR program for at-risk youth.

The Senate version of the biennial budget bill will be considered the week of April 18. The seven amendments (Weber’s was re-amended itself, making eight) that passed and the amount of money diverted for each are listed below:

Bohac Amendment (No. 49).  $14.5 million.

Weber Amendment (No. 44).  $3.15 million in each fiscal year of the 2012-2013 biennium. Total $7.3 million.

Christian Amendment (No. 46).  $3.3 million in each fiscal year of the 2012-13 biennium – to autism services. Total $6.6 million.

Murphy Amendment (No. 50) - $71,773 in each fiscal year of the 2012-13 biennium – to EMS and trauma care.

Miller Amendment (No. 54). $10.6 million in each fiscal year of the 2012-13 biennium – to Early Childhood Intervention Programs. Total $21.2 million.

Zedler Amendment (No. 57). $896,781 for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2012, and by $896,781 for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2013. Total $1.793 million – to dead, blind, and multiple disabilities services.

Laubenberg Amendment (No. 172). $9.16 million – to STAR PROGRAM for at-risk youth.

All seven amendments total $61 million in funds diverted from pro-abortion services to pro-life services.