De-Funding the 'Contraceptive Mentality'
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Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 02:58:40 AM EST
What is the contraceptive mentality, anyway?  If you think it sounds like a good idea, not only are you likely going to hell, but you'll never, never cut it as a Texas legislator.

Courtesy of the American Life League, Monsignor Vincent Foy provides us with a brief primer on this insidious threat to our very survival as a nation. The monsignor would understand perfectly why a group of influential "pro-life" legislators in Texas have embarked on a crusade to stamp out birth control while there's still time.

Fostering the Culture of Life does not only mean respect for life from conception until natural death. It means also repudiation of contraception, the root cause of all other attacks on human life. Contraception, which shows a willingness to sacrifice life to lust, is a fuse that ignites a whole chain of evils destructive of a just society, from abortion to euthanasia.

Worse than the ten plagues which devastated Egypt, the contraceptive mentality is a multi-pronged attack on society. It tends to permeate more and more social structures and even creates its own institutions.
The contraceptive mentality diminishes the level of love in society and increases the level of selfishness and lust. In education, it promotes sex-education and the resultant corruption of the young. In hospital care, it leads to sterilization, abortion and euthanasia.
If this contraceptive mentality continues to prevail, our society is headed for disaster. Statistical proofs show that if the present course is continued, by the year 2050 the U.S. will be a Third World nation.

It is only by a miracle of grace and mercy that the contraceptive mentality can be turned into one of love and life. The hour is late; a dark night of the social order approaches. We need to be heroic in our support of pro-life causes. We need to recognize that contraception is the new terrorism.

Some of our leading "pro-life" heroes in the Legislature appear to have recognized the evil of contraception for what it is.  In apparent agreement with Msgr. Foy, they seem determined to eradicate its pernicious influence and engineer the birth of a new dawn upon the social order here in Texas. Among the institutions spawned by the contraceptive mentality are Planned Parenthood and many other state-funded family planning clinics that have cared for tens of thousands of low-income women in the state every year.  Now -- after decades of helping women to prevent unplanned pregnancies and untimely deaths from breast and cervical cancers -- their day of reckoning has come.  

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The anti-contraception campaign began in earnest in 2003, when state Sen. Tommy Williams (pictured above, fourth from left, with his good friends at Texas Right to Life) devised a plan to close down Planned Parenthood clinics across Texas.  State money would no longer fund any entity connected in any way, however tenuously, to the provision of abortion care. Planned Parenthood immediately mounted a legal challenge, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals eventually sent Williams home with a scolding, but the law itself remains on the books. And this year Williams' anti-choice jihad is finally bearing fruit, shutting down the family planning program of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Leaders at UT Southwestern, which had run the program for decades, were worried about possibly violating the law because some of its doctors practice medicine at hospitals where elective abortions are performed.

Dr. Ron Anderson, Parkland's president and chief executive officer, said the state Legislature was attempting to take money away from Planned Parenthood.

"I don't think the state Legislature understood the consequence of this," he told the hospital board. "It's a big snafu."

Planned Parenthood officials said at the time that the 2003 law was an effort to penalize the agency for providing legal abortions by cutting money for other services. Money instead went to public clinics that did not provide family planning. The organization sued successfully to hang on to all but 5 percent of its funding.

Emily Snooks, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of North Texas, said it was a shame that any family planning program would cut its services. Thirteen of the agency's 28 clinics in North Texas depend on such federal funds.

"It's the thousands of underserved North Texas women who are going to suffer the most," she said. "Planned Parenthood is the only family planning provider for uninsured women in Tarrant and other rural counties."
Parkland officials took over the UT Southwestern program after realizing that the charity hospital would end up delivering more babies without such a program. Its annual 16,000 births usually are the highest in the nation.
A family planning program for low-income women in Dallas County is planning to close three neighborhood clinics and lay off more than 30 employees despite efforts by Parkland Memorial Hospital to keep the program intact.

As many as 11,000 women could lose access to postpartum care and birth control next year, doctors from UT Southwestern Medical Center warned Parkland's Board of Managers on Tuesday.

The doctors, who are running the program for Parkland, blamed an almost 25 percent cut in federal funding distributed by the state next year - a loss totaling $1.7 million.

The family planning program cared for 33,738 women at seven clinics over the last year.

If, as Dr. Anderson supposed, the Legislature as a whole didn't understand what it was doing, Tommy Williams certainly did.  Because in the 2005 legislative session, he came back and did it again.  And this time he not only crippled the purveyors of the "contraceptive mentality" even further, but accomplished his faith-based initiative by diverting millions in state funds intended for family planning and primary health screening into financing the highly dubious practices of crisis pregnancy centers.

Senate budget writers want to shift $5 million from programs that provide birth control and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases to a pregnancy counseling program that only pushes alternatives to abortion.
Proponents argue that the money would be funneled to a needed social service, and that Medicaid could pay for the services that will lose some funding.

Critics say the change effectively would eliminate basic medical care for more than 16,600 low-income women who are served by the family planning program.

"It's almost ridiculous that they will take money from a program that will prevent abortion," said Peggy Romberg, CEO of Women's Health And Family Planning Association of Texas.

The reduction in state money will reduce the availability of birth control services, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections, and breast exams at clinics that receive state money through the program, Romberg said.

"There's a lot of money in that Family Planning strategy, and what we did was earmark $5 million for pregnancy assistance centers," said Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, one of the lawmakers who voted for the amendment.

Pregnancy assistance centers, which are not receiving state money, provide pregnancy testing and counseling that advocates against abortion. Finance Committee chairman Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said the reduction is relatively small compared with the Family Planning program's total budget of $54 million, and Medicaid provides many of the same services for low-income women.

"People need to keep in context that the $5 million being taken away from Family Planning is out of a Medicaid budget that is almost $25 billion. "Because it's so small, it doesn't really justify all the hyperventilating that goes along with it."

In a typically misleading attempt to downplay the effects of his and Tommy Williams' anti-birth control shell game, Ogden conflates the Medicaid budget for all health care in Texas with the already underfunded family planning program. And here's some entirely justified hyperventilation, reproduced in its entirety exactly as I received it.

Why Tanya cried

this morning i dragged myself out of bed before dawn to be at planned parenthood at 730 and wait in the freezing morning shade until 9 for my annual exam. at 930, myself and the 25 other women (of color.of course) grumbled in solidarity and confusion, wondering why we were still waiting and shivering. finally an employee opened the doors and coralled us inside just to inform us that there would be no walk-in exams today.or tomorrow.or ever. are you kidding me? i thought. nope. no joke. turns out the good ol boys at the texas state legislature cut pp's funding by 40% last friday.

i stood in the office stunned while 3 mothers began to cry. another women, at least 65 years old, turned to me and asked, "que dijo?" what did she say? as i tried to explain what i still didnt understand, i began to feel my anger swell. overnight one of the safest, most reliable, most critical social services vanished. all patients over 24 years old have to seek new clinics, all birth control now costs $25/month, all annuals $125, all pregnancy tests $30.

i stood waiting for the chance of one more pack of birth control pills, asking questions answered with shrugs and apologies, watching faces full of exasperation. when my name was called i tried again to get more information, but the fact was clear and simple; accessible family planning and women's reproductive rights are not a priority. i left with a pack of pills after giving all my $35, sat in my car and cried.

here's the kicker. texas lawmakers are promoting crisis pregnancy centers instead. that's right, slash funding for sexual health and preventive services and create crisis centers. this whole freakin country is a crisis center. i want to see those lawmakers walk into clinics all over this state and have the guts to tell a room full of women, "sorry, go home and buy condoms" or "sorry, god willed those children and you're on your own to figure out the rest". i want them to watch women lose the thread of hope they were gripping.

so now what? write letters and make phone calls? i dont think so. the truth is i dont know what to do. i do know nothing will be done if people dont know. so in my emotional, reactionary state, that's what i am trying to do.

i'm fighting hard to keep my faith.

thanks for reading,

Planned Parenthood in downtown Austin now has this notice for its patients:

Because of decisions made by elected representatives in the Texas government, this clinic will not receive enough money to take care of all the patients who need services. Our state government made decisions to limit services from trusted family planning providers like Planned Parenthood--for purely political reasons.
As of January 1, 2006, the only patients who will be able to receive services at this clinic are women who are 24 years old or younger and who are residents of Travis County. Also, clinic hours have been cut.

Planned Parenthood in Waco is hoping that an emergency fundraiser will help to keep its doors open.

All across the state, tens of thousands of women are being deprived of their only access to family planning services that also include primary screening for cancer, high blood pressure, anemia, STDs and other threats to their health.

The state's Health and Human Services Commission tells us that this is a good thing, because "the active promotion of childbirth" is now the official policy of the State of Texas. That the women affected by this dictate might not want to bear children in the service of the state's policy is not an official concern.  

But wait; there's more, as detailed by the Houston Chronicle.

Women, children last

An irrational, secretive redistribution of millions of dollars robs Texas' poorest women of health care

It's not as if they weren't doing their job. In a state with the nation's highest number of uninsured residents, family planning clinics across Texas for years have offered women preventive medicine, including cancer screening, contraception and gynecological, prenatal and postpartum care.

This winter, however, these providers have been slammed by laws quietly crafted last spring. In riders that required no public discussion, Texas legislators arranged to shift $5 million of the federal money on which these clinics rely to a different sort of service: programs "for women seeking alternatives to abortion focused on pregnancy support services that promote childbirth."  Another $20 million was diverted from the experienced clinics to alternative programs that may not provide the same level of service.
El Paso's [Family Planning Department], which loses 50 percent of its funds, must now turn away some of its clients. The disruption will force more women into the county hospital at late stages of illness.
In Dallas, withdrawal of $1.7 million is forcing the closure of three family planning clinics. In Houston, where the Legislature cut more than 50 percent of Planned Parenthood funds, as many as 10,000 women will lose access to well-woman exams, contraception and cancer screenings. Under federal law, none of these Texas clinics could have used these funds to perform abortions. Nevertheless, legislators chose to cripple the clinics.

The pivotal operating funds will go to pregnancy crisis centers or to 19 Federally Qualified Health Centers -- some of which never requested the help. These FQHCs are valuable resources, offering primary care to poor neighborhoods. But the clinics are scarce, far-flung, and often lack family planning services such as contraception. They can't replace the multiservice family planning clinics that have treated Texans for decades.

Legislators have every right to push abortion alternatives -- as long as they don't abdicate their other duties. But ravaging working clinics during a health coverage crisis has nothing to do with protecting women or children. It's self-interested strutting, and it's trampling on the health of thousands of Texas wives, mothers and daughters.

Dozens of long time family planning and women's health care providers have lost millions of dollars in state and federal funding.  A training program for women's health care nurse practitioners has closed.  Clinics that have served communities for decades already have closed or will be closing soon, while the FQHCs selected to receive huge amounts of unrequested funding are so unprepared to offer family planning services that many are not even making applications for the money.  

If you object to the heroic efforts of our faithful public servants to save Texas women from the "new terrorism" of contraception, if you fail to understand that contraception is the gateway to abortion and foreshadows a dark night of the social order, perhaps it is only because you, too, have been deluded and deceived by the contraceptive mentality. But if you are fortunate enough to live in Texas, your salvation is at hand.

Display: doing a great job.  Just give him lots of air-time and make sure those quotes get spread far & wide.  Right around election time.  

Someone should cross-post his stuff in a diary at Kos.  That ought to get the ball rolling nicely.  

by gg on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 08:09:28 AM EST

Thanks for this post.  Extremely important.

Like the gag rule that prohibits US funds from helping family planning programs overseas, this is an effort to starve out any services that will help women lead full and independent lives.

Tanya, whom you quote, is right to wonder 'why.'  

As was posted on this site, the religious right doesn't need theocracy, if they can keep forcing demogagic legislation like this.

by cyncooper on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 02:16:15 PM EST

Under the terms of the latest rider, clinics that receive state funding can't mention emergency contraception even to rape victims. As its sponsor, Sen. (and physician) Bob Deuell said, some people think that constitutes an abortion.

But it is hard to imagine a social policy more perfectly or deliberately designed to increase the number of abortions in this state or any other.

by moiv on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 08:32:31 PM EST

Our good Christian fundamentalist fellow citizens always try this kind of thing out first in stupid states, like Mississippi, and my home, Texas. Then, if all goes well, they take it national.
Y'all in the smart states, it's time to start getting prepared!

by MaryOGrady on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 07:42:47 PM EST
This is a vivid illustration of why Molly Ivins calls Texas the national laboratory for bad government.  If people want a glimpse into the country's future, all they need to do is take a look at Texas. It's us today, and everyone else tomorrow.

by moiv on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 08:12:15 PM EST
They say the same thing in Michigan -- that they are the test lab for anti-abortion legislation.  

The reality is that it is very very bad in many states -- South Dakota, North Dakota, Mississippi, Missouri, Kansas ....

And it's likely that in the near future, states will be left to do as they will, with no federal constitutional protection.

The Guttmacher Institute has an up-to-date list of anti-abortion and anti-contraception initiatives in the states..

by cyncooper on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 12:38:23 AM EST

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