Newsbreak

What else is Texas doing to help women and children? A lot, it turns out.

Texas

After the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect on September 1, abortion advocates began to accuse pro-life legislators of not caring about women. They claimed that if women couldn’t have abortions they would suffer financially, and that Texas was essentially abandoning these women and the children they were being ‘forced’ to carry to term. But the truth is, Texas put other laws in place leading up to September 1 that are also meant to help women and children succeed.

SB 224: Simplified SNAP certification process

In June 2021, Texas bill SB 224 was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. The law made improvements to the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which benefits senior citizens, people with disabilities on fixed incomes, and recipients of Medicaid. According to PR News Wire, the law simplifies requirements for the program, including the waiving of the recertification interview, a shortened application form with simplified verification requirements, and a 36-month enrollment period after each certification and recertification. The law also ensures that women on Medicaid know that they are eligible for the SNAP program with data-matching.

“By passing this bill, we are ensuring that our most vulnerable Texans […] will receive the nutritional assistance they need in the most efficient manner possible,” said Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), the author of the bill.

The law went into effect the same day as the Texas Heartbeat Act — September 1, 2021. Texas funds more than half of all births in the state through Medicaid, which covers prenatal care for the mother and preborn baby, childbirth, and medical costs for a year for the baby.

SB 1: Increase in funding to Alternatives to Abortion

As the regular session for the Texas Legislature came to a close on May 31, legislators adopted SB 1, a two-year budget that increased funding for the state’s Alternatives to Abortion (A2A) program. The goals of A2A, according to Texas Alliance for Life, are to reduce the number of abortions, improve pregnancy outcomes, improve child health and development, and improve families’ economic self-sufficiency. SB 1 increased funding to A2A from $80 million to $100 million, a 25% increase.

A2A was created in 2005 and since then has grown exponentially. In 2020, the program served more than 101,000 unique clients with various services for Texas mothers, fathers, and children — before, during, and up to three years after birth. This includes adoptive parents who receive services for up to two years after the finalization of the adoption. Services include counseling, mentoring, educational information, classes on pregnancy, parenting, adoption, life skills, and employment readiness as well as material goods including car seats, clothing, diapers, formula, and housing. More than 80 agencies participate in the A2A program.

“We are thrilled that the Texas Legislature has substantially increased funding for the highly successful Alternatives to Abortion program,” said Dr. Joe Pojman, executive director for Texas Alliance for Life. “In addition to protecting unborn babies from abortion through the passage of the Human Life Protection Act and the Texas Heartbeat Act, Texas is also committed to helping new mothers and fathers through the journey up to, including, and for three years after the birth of a child.”

HB 133: Increase Medicaid coverage for new mothers

Also effective on September 1, Texas’ HB 133 increased Medicaid coverage for new mothers from two months after the birth of a child to six months after. The bill was part of a legislative health care package and passed overwhelmingly in the Senate by a vote of 30-1.

“We will become one of the first states in the nation to extend it beyond two months,” said State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), who chairs the chamber’s Health and Human Services Committee.

Toni Rose (D-Dallas) authored the bill and explained, “Women without comprehensive health care is the number one cause of death amongst women after pregnancy.”

With the passage of these laws, Texas has proven it cares about preborn children, born children, women, and families — while the abortion industry continues to sell death for the most vulnerable.

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