Today, the mayors of the four largest cities in Texas — Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio — released a letter addressed to Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) urging him to stop the proposed legislation that prohibits local governmental entities from partnering with Planned Parenthood. By limiting a local government’s ability to address the unique health care needs of their communities, this bill is an attack on local control.
In the early morning hours on July 26, the Senate approved SB 4 by Sen. Charles Schwertner, which specifically targets Planned Parenthood patients and goes farther than previous “defunding” efforts to extend to the local level what the Texas Legislature has implemented on the state level. If it succeeds, Planned Parenthood would be barred from activities such as participating in city and county health fairs for free HIV and STD testing or partnering to distribute mosquito spray to prevent the spread of Zika. On July 27, the House State Affairs Committee approved the House companion bill HB 14 by Rep. Drew Springer, which will head to the House floor for debate unless Speaker Straus prevents it from moving forward.
Planned Parenthood is one of Texas’ most trusted providers of reproductive health and family planning services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings. When lawmakers politicize reproductive health care, Texans lose access.