During the House budget debate, state representatives approved an $80 million increase in funding for crisis pregnancy centers.
In the first recorded vote of the day, members of the Texas House voted to add $80 million to the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program. This move nearly doubled the funding for the program, increasing it to a total of $200 million over two years.
The amendment’s author, State Rep. Cody Vasut (R–Angleton), told his colleagues that crisis pregnancy centers “desperately need this significant increase in funding to keep up with demand,” since Texas has almost completely banned abortion.
Vasut explained that pregnancy centers across the state have seen an increase in demand for service of approximately 43 percent.
“This amendment will ensure that those social services providers on the front lines do not have to stop their life-saving and life-affirming services throughout the 2024-2025 biennium,” said Vasut. “It’s not enough that we ensure Texas is abortion-free; we must make sure that Texas is truly pro-life.”
According to Human Coalition, the Alternatives to Abortion program provided more than 2.4 million services to more than 113,000 clients in the 2022 fiscal year alone.
“The demand is there. The need is there,” said Vasut.
Multiple Democrats objected to giving pregnancy centers more money, arguing that the centers at hand “don’t offer actual healthcare and are largely unregulated.”
State Rep. Erin Zwiener (D–Driftwood) argued there is no respect for privacy in crisis pregnancy centers. Zwiener claimed those clinics do not employ medical professionals who are required by law to keep personal information private and could, therefore, give out any private information at any time without legal consequences.
Vasut said he has never seen a scenario like this occur before.
The amendment passed by a vote of 88-59, with C.J. Harris and Dade Phelan not voting, and Bryan Slaton absent. All of the Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, along with Democrat State Reps. Harold Dutton Jr. (Houston), R.D. “Bobby” Guerra (Mission), Abel Herrero (Robstown), and Sergio Muñoz Jr. (Mission) joined the Republicans voting in favor.
Human Coalition praised Vasut’s amendment.
“We are thrilled to support the expansion of this historic program that provides life-changing support for both mothers and children in need,” said Chelsey Youman, Human Coalition Action’s director of public policy. “For years, pro-lifers in Texas have been rescuing children in the womb and walking with women to a place of stability; we look forward to continuing our efforts to make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary.”
Rebecca Parma, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, told Texas Scorecard that TRL also applauds the amendment’s passing.
“We are thrilled that the Legislature has doubled the program’s funding!” said Parma. “The program has seen increased demand since Roe was overturned last year, and that demand will only continue to increase. This program is critical in our post-Roe world as we build a pro-life Texas and help Texas women and families thrive in our state, rather than seeking out-of-state or illegal abortions.”