Texas Tells Heidi To Go Yodel

I do love Texas. Whenever I need examples of really stupid government behavior for classroom use, I can count on the Lone Star State to supply them.

A recent example, courtesy of the AP: Texas has been an enthusiastic participant in the war against Planned Parenthood, and in 2011 it banned the organization from a women’s health program meant to provide low-cost breast exams, contraception and cancer screening. Instead, the state contracted with inexperienced providers, notably the Heidi Group, an evangelical nonprofit started in the 1990s and best known for promoting alternatives to abortion.

The Heidi Group fell well short of serving the 70,000 women it had promised to reach, and for which it had been paid 1.6 million dollars. Its failure to perform under that contract, however, paled in comparison to its failure to meet the goals in a much larger state contract under which it was to provide family planning services.

More than $5 million in taxpayer funds pledged to the Heidi Group was for family planning services. But the small nonprofit hasn’t met their goals and now plans to serve only a fifth of the nearly 18,000 women originally projected, said Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Texas has now reduced the contract from $5 million to $1 million. That will save some tax dollars, but it won’t provide needed health services to Texas’ women.

According to the AP, “The Heidi Group is led by Carol Everett, a prominent anti-abortion activist and influential conservative force in the Texas Legislature.”

Most sentient people have figured out that the unremitting assault on Planned Parenthood is part of a larger war being waged against women’s autonomy–our right to control our own reproduction and make our own moral and medical decisions. That broader assault is usually veiled by rhetoric against abortion (which is a tiny percentage of the services Planned Parenthood provides).

So how is Texas doing? Is the legislature’s willingness to deny poor women life-saving pap smears and breast exams translating into fewer abortions?

Not so much.

With the goal of eliminating abortion, Texas Republicans have stripped Planned Parenthood of funding and steadily obstructed patient access to care over the past few years. Turns out, their ideological, anti-choice crusade is having the opposite effect. A new study shows abortion rates have jumped since Planned Parenthood was blocked.

During the three years after the Texas legislature defunded Planned Parenthood, teen abortions increased 3.1% and teen births spiked by 3.4%  The legislature shuttered more than 80 family planning clinics altogether, action which not only decreased access to preventive women’s health care and low-cost contraception, but led to a spike in unintended pregnancies, especially among teens, and substantial increases in Medicaid expenditures.

Packham reports that 2,200 teens would not have given birth if the Legislature hadn’t cut family planning, slowing the overall progress of a decreasing birth rate. With an average taxpayer cost of $27,000 per birth, the price tag of the cuts total an estimated $80 million, outweighing the funds saved by the drastic cuts – a figure self-avowed fiscal conservative Republicans may want to heed. Other research bolsters Packham’s work: Last year, the UT-based Texas Policy Evaluation Project found that in East Texas’ Gregg County, abortion rose by a whopping 191% in the two years after the county lost 60% of its family planning funding. Similar results appeared in neighboring counties.

Will anyone who thinks Texas legislators learned anything from their Heidi experience please yodel?


  1. It will be five years in October that a local Planned Parenthood Clinic saved the life of my 31 year old friend by early diagnosis of breast cancer. She was out of work at the time, they found all the help she needed after the mammogram showed the lump needed to be biopsied. She had chemo (lost her long hair), radiation therapy and lumpectomy and lumpectomy, saving her breast, provided by medical care through PP.

    Thirty-eight years ago (before PP) my daughter could get an abortion legally through her health care provider after the fetus died at 2 months; not diagnosed till past 5 months. At that time it had become a glob of severely infected tissue which had infected her uterus and was in her circulatory system. The thereputic abortion saved her life.

    Eight years ago my 24 year old granddaughter, who had suddenly developed possibly fatal type seizures at age 19, became pregnant. Knowing that not having an abortion further increased her chances of death due to the seizure disorder. She opted to try to carry her baby to term. She died having seizures five months pregnant, age 24. It was HER choice…NOT some politician’s for their pseudo religious beliefs.

    When will these people, primarily old men, realize Planned Parenthood Clinics are not abortion factories; they provide vital health care testing and treatment to men and women they would otherwise not be able to afford or to avail themselves of? As bad as Texas is, and it is worsening, remember the current laws here in Indiana due to Mike Pence who plans to enact his total anti-abortion laws at the national level.

    Texas is the “poster state” for small-mindedness regarding the Planned Parenthood benefits. There are other medical clinics and most hospitals who also provide access to birth control and abortions as well as medical testing and treatment; they are exempt from government attack for some reason. They also provide the same testing for pregnancy, STDs, cancer screenings and drug testing using the same medical knowledge as Planned Parenthood. Birth control and the decision to abort is a medical decision, not political and not a universal religious consideration. If your religion prohibits these options; that is your personal choice. Do not force it on others and in the 2018 and 2020 elections, do not vote for candidates you know will enact such laws.

  2. I believe that I read that in addition to having more abortions, Texas now has more self-induced abortions by women who cannot get to one of the very few PP clinics. That leads to more women dying in their attempts to abort.

  3. The rest of the country should pay attention to Colorado’s program of free birth control that has been so successful.

    Does anyone remember the money that Pence gave to some Pennsylvania religious organization that claimed to provide prenatal services to women? I think we paid them $3M and it didn’t have to be approved by the legislature. They set up the same type of offices as the TX program – no actual clinicians – just people trying to talk pregnant women out of having abortions.

    Men would never allow someone else to tell them what they can or cannot do with their bodies. We must keep fighting their insane need to control our bodies.

  4. This is a constant battle: the rich don’t want to pay for services to the poor.

  5. Outlawing abortions only ends safe abortions. The Colorado program that Nancy mentioned has lowered teen pregnancy, lowered the abortion rate, and saved the taxpayers a lot of money. You’d think that would be a Republican’s wet dream and it would be, if the ultimate goal of all of this nonsense wasn’t the control of women.

  6. As a resident of Texas (Soon to change), I can tell you first hand that things are MUCH worse for women, the poor and the people of color in this state than your column or the comments can fathom. There is institutionalized sexism and racism from the Republican hold on government at every level. Texas Republicans are among the most backward and callous public “servants” in the country.

    This situation is made worse by the fact that the Texas Democratic Party is clueless, leaderless and idea-free. Moreover, the people who should and would vote for Democrats don’t. They’ve thrown up their hands and ceded this political disgrace to the Republicans. Add to all that the preaching from the pulpits about how evil sex is (An interesting point of view to all pro-lifers), how dirty women are and how the poor deserve their fate, and you have a miasma of ignorance and anti-socital self-absorption.

    Leaving Texas will be one of the greatest times of my life.

  7. How, who and where do we here in Indiana find strong Democratic candidates or possible Democratic candidates at all levels to throw our support behind? We have Rep. Andre Carson; our strongest and staunchest supporter at the federal level, Sen. Joe Donnelly is the weak link in that federal chain. We have Dana Black who is gaining steam to again run against Rep. Brian Bosma who is SITTING in his 31st year in the House. Note the stress on the word “SITTING”; due to Dana gaining ground against him last year he finally began actively campaigning 4-5 weeks prior to the election. You in the 88th District finally have a strong candidate to remove Bosma (one of the old men here against Planned Parenthood), some voters in that district have never in their lifetime had another candidate running for the House. Will you take advantage of her abilities and her determination to work for all residents of Indiana if elected?

    We can study and rant against other state sitting elected officials and keep up with those who will be running in 2018; but the only state where we can take action and make a difference is here in Indiana. Who has that list of strong Democratic candidates? Are there any? Due to current conditions at state, national – and international – levels; NOW is not too soon to be taking names and checking them twice.

  8. Jo Ann

    The Indiana Democrat Party cannot come to grips with the fact that Bernie Sanders won the presidential primary here. He pulled votes from not only Democrats, but from Independents as well. The Democrat Party chiefs need to listen to Bernie’s message. Until they do, they will continue to offer the public the same old bland middle right message that gets them nowhere.

  9. Texas has now reduced the contract from $5 million to $1 million. That will save some tax dollars, but it won’t provide needed health services to Texas’ women.

    I have a hard time figuring out this saves some tax dollars when women, in desperate need of care, might have to use emergency rooms which will cost taxpayers dearly.

  10. Many people who once embraced the DNC, the Democrat establishment party, have turned to the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) as a group recognizing their political beliefs. By the way, Indiana has a PDA Chapter as do many other states.


  11. Ever been to texas? its a diffrent aspect of life. Im looking at the working class here. im not into hob knobbin with suits. but, as my beer drinkin,BBQ esque buds would atest,they dont give a damn how you do it anywhere else! most times one would believe church and state is not seprate in texas..yes,one line thinking is very prominate in texas..but for the sake of both sides,male and female,we had some intervention,and given justice to the overwhelming male texas legislature,in fine fashion,thanks to a very brave woman legislature,she came up with a response to the male domination of texas legislature,see huffpost, 7/3 2013, charles clymers piece, please, set your coffee and donut down,as the person across from you will not appreciate your full frontal roar of laughter,and it seems a fitting rebutal to texas shame legislation against women.. after all, families there,need to be protected from cheap gossip if?

  12. Read about this yesterday.
    ACLU taking case that was thrown out by a male judge in Georgia. She works at an organization for the disabled!!!

    “Alisha Coleman worked as a 911 call taker for Bobby Dodd Institute, a job training and employment organization for people with disabilities. She had that job for nearly a decade before she was let go for getting her period at work. Most women know the embarrassment of having your period sneak up on you unexpectedly and having to figure out a way to deal with stained clothing at work or school or some other public place. But to be fired for it is as baffling as it is infuriating.”


    Women and their scary body parts…ugh.

  13. Republican leadership in Texas is not interested in objective experience, saving money or anything else that contradicts their Abrahamic view that women are objects and subject to control of their bodies by a male-dominated state. These fossil fuel addicts have fossilized brains and will ultimately be overrun by reason and demographics, but we must fight to hasten the day while awaiting that grand day, the day when women are released from slavery and servitude on the Lone Star’s political plantation.

  14. These people aren’t interested in facts. Everything they do is based on their “faith”, which tells them they are right because they are saving babies. So, if a teen becomes pregnant and must give birth because she has no other option, they don’t want to hear about the uphill battles to be faced by both the mother and child. They don’t consider how hard it would be to give up the baby, either. They believe they are saving babies, and that mom and baby should both pull themselves up by their bootstraps and soldier on. According to them Planned Parenthood is evil. Never mind that it provides preventative health care, like pap tests, blood pressure checks, physical exams, well-woman annual exams and breast exams. They are baby murders to them, and who really cares about the Jezebels who get knocked up, anyway?

    Interestingly, I saw a report somewhere recently that the majority of people who yell insults at women attempting to go into abortion clinics are white men, aged over 60. What does that tell you?

  15. As I have written before the real “sides” dividing America now are liberalism (collaboration) and authoritarianism (people (mostly men) who see themselves as the stern omnipotent father). The need for that mindset left civilization many decades ago but it’s hard to abandon by some because it connotes privilege (power) along with responsibility independent of ability. They tend to be loyal followers of power no matter who has it.

    Will we recover from this maladaption to our current situation before the train leaves the tracks?

    It’s going to be close.

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