The Austin Chronicle

'Alternatives' to Abortion Gets More Funding

By Jordan Smith, March 30, 2007, News

Given that the first fiscal year of operation was such a stunning "success," perhaps it isn't at all surprising that the House Appropriations Committee would go ahead and give the OK for $5 million in additional funding in the state's Health and Human Services budget to be earmarked for the supposedly "useful" Alternatives to Abortion program. The program was designed by Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, back in 2005 as a way to champion childbirth over abortion – in other words, a way to funnel taxpayer money away from traditional women's health care and into maternity homes and, more importantly, to so-called "crisis pregnancy centers," which offer no medical care whatsoever – and attached to the budget as a rider. The money went to the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, which administers the abortion alternatives program, which took in well over $1 million in public funds to serve a grand total of 11 clients statewide during FY 06.

By appropriating the initial funding for the program via a rider, Williams has, thus far, successfully circumvented the entire legislative process – in other words, since the Senate's Finance Committee accepted the rider, the abortion alternatives program has become de facto law, never considered nor voted on by all Texas lawmakers. Whether the latest appropriation will attract any meaningful opposition should become clear today (Thursday), as the state budget comes up for debate on the House floor. (For more on the Alternatives to Abortion program and on the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, which administers the program, see "No Real Alternative," Jan. 26.)

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