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Holy Rollers

Texas clergy demand a reversal of family planning cuts

By Brandon Watson, 5:30PM, Mon. Mar. 4, 2013

Holy Rollers

For progressives, at least one positive is coming out of the folly of the legislative and cultural “War on Women.” The relentless onslaught is winning a new generation of allies – even a few unlikely ones.

A coalition of Texas clergy are the latest to rail against draconian 2011 family planning budgetary cuts and restricted access to birth control. In a state where the good ol' boy preachers most often knock themselves out in the competition to be America’s Most Conservative Pastor, other religious leaders are taking a stand on behalf of women who need support and social services.

Today, the backlash took the form of a letter signed by a multi-denominational cast. On behalf of the group, the Rev. Kelly Allen, pastor of San Antonio’s University Presbyterian Church said, “Far too often, religious voices have supported measures that undermine the freedom of women to make decisions about their own health, and when or if they will have children. But on behalf of hundreds of clergy from across Texas, we call on lawmakers to protect the ability of individuals to access birth control according to their own conscience or religious beliefs.” Robert Jeffress, she ain’t.

In a slightly more purple Texas, the group’s position seems to be taking hold. Last month, a Texas Freedom Network Education Fund poll found that 73 percent of registered voters are in favor of family planning services, including birth control, for low-income women What’s more, support for services was not drastically affected by the respondent's particular faith. Maybe concerns about a heavenly future are being grounded in the reality of the here and now. According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the penny-wise, pound-foolish cuts will bring an estimated 23,760 additional births to low-income women, burdening Medicaid in Texas with as much as $273 million in extra spending.

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