The Texas House Friday night passed a controversial measure which forbids local cities and counties from contracting with Planned Parenthood or with any other organization that provides abortions, even if the contract itself has nothing to do with abortion, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Approval on a largely party line vote came after more than seven hours of sometimes emotional debate.
Supporters called it a 'taxpayer protection' bill, saying citizens who oppose abortion should not have their tax money, even indirectly, support groups that provide abortions.
Opponents said organizations which provide abortion services also offer a wide variety of other women's health services, from cervical cancer screening to basic exams and sex ed.
"Texas is a large and diverse state, and local communities face unique public health challenges, some of those challenges have been exacerbated by an extreme anti-abortion agenda," said Delma Catalina Limones, a spokeswoman for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.
"Local governments deserve the agency and resources to solve these challenges.. Anti-abortion extremists in the Texas Legislature continue to put ideology above public health, and Texans will end up suffering the consequences of their dangerous agenda."
The bill was prompted by the City of Austin granting Planned Parenthood a $1 a year lease for an office where STD screenings and other health services, but not abortions, are performed.. Supporters of the bill say what they call a 'sweetheart deal' allows Planned Parenthood to shift its resources to providing abortions at other locations, with taxpayers indirectly paying the cost.
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) who represents the district where the clinic is located, says the bill threatens to 'derail' the last week of te session.
"It's my hope that today hasn't eroded the bipartisanship we have worked so hard for over the past four months, and stalled the good legislation that much needs to pass," he said.
Lawmakers on Thursday approved the 'born alive' bill, requiring doctors to provide immediate care for babies who are born alive despite bungled abortions, a measure seen by opponents as an attempt to dissuade doctors from working at abortion clinics, because they will be intimidated by the threat of 10 years in prison if a pro life district attorney determines that they violated the law.