Ken Paxton Lies in Letter on Women's Health


Ken Paxton (Photo by John Anderson)

A March 22 letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton makes startlingly clear that our A.G. doesn't know what the hell he's talking about when it comes to women's health.

The letter urges the Trump administration to place federal Title X funds back into the hands of state officials. In 2013, the Obama administration granted the $6.5 million in federal family planning funds to a nonprofit, the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, instead of the prior recipient, the Department of State Health Services. (Both groups applied for the grants.) The decision came after the state mismanaged and destroyed the family planning landscape with massive budget cuts, leading to a drastic drop in services and more than 80 clinic closures.

But Paxton asserts that the previous administration "removed Texas from the list of eligible Title X grant recipients because of our Legislature's commitment to protecting the lives of the unborn," which is completely false. He adds that since the state "is unwilling to function as a conduit of federal monies to abortion providers, Texas has been denied the ability to participate in the program." Again a total inaccuracy: Texas losing those funds had nothing to do with pro-choice politics and everything to do with its harmful budget decisions.

Paxton additionally claims in error that Title X funding was discontinued five years ago. The Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas administers those funds, meant for low-income and uninsured women, to 28 health care providers that manage nearly 100 clinics across Texas, including the Austin-area People's Community Clinics and El Buen Samaritano in South Austin.

Paxton's letter also serves as a disturbing show of support for the Trump administration's recent rule change to Title X applicants that prioritizes faith-based and abstinence-only education organizations and rolls back access to a wider range of birth control methods. Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Executive Director Yvonne Gutierrez said Paxton's rhetoric shows that Texas officials "are accepting the Trump-Pence administration's invitation to gut Title X, the nation's family planning program. ... We've already seen the devastating impacts to Texans when politicians strip away access to critical preventive services like birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Ken Paxton, Title X funds

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