As debate continues over maneuvers to block funding for Planned Parenthood from the state's Women's Health Program, feminist icon Gloria Steinem on Wednesday had tough words for Texas lawmakers.
“The action to defund Planned Parenthood is a shame for Texas and this country and makes Texas an exception to every other advanced democracy in the world,” Steinem said, speaking to reporters Wednesday at a statewide conference of the Texas Council on Family Violence, where she was delivering the keynote address. “Every other democracy considers reproductive freedom, the right of an individual to decide when and whether to have children, an accepted part of health care."
Steinem, 78, is often credited with coining the term “reproductive freedom” in relation to women’s access to abortions and birth control.
These issues have been at the forefront of a huge fight between Texas lawmakers, Planned Parenthood and women’s health advocates. Texas has chosen to forfeit 90 percent of its funding from the federal government in order to exclude abortion providers and their affiliates, including Planned Parenthood, from the Women’s Health Program. Gov. Rick Perry has pledged to replace the forfeited federal funds with state money, at least through 2013, without funding those providers.
A public hearing Tuesday in Austin brought women’s health advocates, lawmakers opposed to the measure as well as proponents of excluding Planned Parenthood from WHP. Those opposed to the plan say it will make it more difficult for low-income women to receive necessary care. Proponents say there are other clinics that are not affiliated with abortion to serve women who currently rely on Planned Parenthood.