Democrats fight back against medieval bill restricting women’s health care in Texas

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Photo: Democratic State Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas sports a pink scarf in solidarity with Planned Parenthood. Photo by Rep. Caesar Blanco.

A bill threatening the funding of abortion and other health care services, like HIV testing, diabetes, and cervical cancer screenings — preliminarily passed the Texas House Friday night.

The bill is part of the longtime crusade by hard right Texas Republicans against Planned Parenthood in Texas. It blocks local government entities from partnering with abortion providers.

“Senate Bill 22 has nothing to do with impacting abortion services,” said Gina Hinojosa, D- Austin, at a press conference. “What Senate Bill 22 does is take aim at the routine and lifesaving healthcare services offered by Planned Parenthood.”

Despite several hours of protest from Democratic lawmakers, Senate Bill 22 passed in an 81 to 65 vote. It is now expected to return to the Senate again before heading to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

“If SB 22 became law, Planned Parenthood’s clinics that provide medication & surgical abortion won’t be impacted,” Planned Parenthood Texas Votes tweeted Friday. “Instead, it will impact the health centers that provide birth control, cancer screenings, STD treatment, HIV tests, PreP/PEP and other health care services.”

Critics of the proposed law say it is one of the most regressive bills for women’s health in recent years.

Many local governments also recently condemned the bill because it prohibits cities from using their tax money to work with abortion providers and their related affiliates.

“Local governments and health officials must have the ability and authority to partner with trusted health care providers and other qualified nonprofit organizations to address the health needs of our communities,” read an April letter against the bill signed by dozens of Texas elected officials, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Judge Lina Hidalgo.

“By restricting local resources the state would threaten the health and well-being of our citizens,” it read.

The bill allows the Texas Attorney General to block agreements with abortion providers and file lawsuits against governments that do not follow the new law.

If the bill heads to the Senate as expected, it is likely to advance in the Republican-dominated chamber although it’s not yet clear when that vote might occur.

In 2011, the Texas legislature cut Planned Parenthood’s funding by two thirds, leading to the closure of 80 clinics across the state.

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