Texas House Funnels HIV Funds to Abstinence Education

House passes measure diverting HIV funds to abstinence education

Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman
Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman

Staving off objections from Democrats, a measure that would divert $3 million from HIV/STD prevention programs to abstinence-only education sailed through the House during Tuesday’s marathon debate over the massive, $210 billion Texas budget.

The amendment – one of more than 300 filed to House Bill 1 – offered by Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman, spurred a few – er – uncomfortable moments after an intimate line of questioning from Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, who asked Spitzer if abstinence had worked for him. “Yes, it did,” said Spitzer, who married at 29 years old. “I’ve had sex with one woman in my life and that’s my wife.” Dutton pressed Spitzer on whether that was the “first woman” he had asked to (presumably) have sex with. Shouts of “decorum” from the House interrupted the awkward exchange.

Responding to questions from Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, Spitzer, a physician, appeared unaware that Texas receives the most money nationally for abstinence education and holds one of the highest teen birth rates in the country. Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, also noted Texas holds the third highest rate of HIV diagnoses in the nation. “What is your goal for this amendment?” asked Turner of Houston. “My goal is for everyone to be abstinent until they are married,” replied Spitzer. The amendment passed 94-47.

More on the (no)sex ed front: An amendment by Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, which would have ensured “medically accurate, objective” sexual education was shot down while a measure by Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, to prevent family planning funds from going toward sexual education instruction or materials sponsored by abortion affiliates passed the House.

Noticeably scrapped from floor debate was a flurry of amendments by Democrats that would reduce funding to the Alternatives to Abortion program, as well as a handful of amendments by GOPers to conversely up the funding for the program, which includes unregulated, anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers. The program is set to receive nearly double its funding – from $5.15 million per year to $9.15 million – from last session’s budget.

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