Senate Bill 22 by Sen. Donna Campbell prohibits local governmental entities from partnering with health care organizations like Planned Parenthood on any services. The legislation prohibits these partnerships even for services not related to abortions.
The bill would prohibit the transfer of money, goods or services to an abortion provider, or anything that offers the provider "something of value derived from state or local tax revenue."
SB 22 would also apply to an affiliate of an abortion provider, so no Planned Parenthood clinics could partner with local governments, even clinics that don't provide abortions.
It undermines local control and is detrimental to cities and counties, where many residents already face significant challenges in accessing affordable and quality health care. In the state with the highest uninsured rate in the country, every resource to support the health of the public is essential.
For example, community-based health care providers offer preventive exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, immunizations, contraceptive services, education and counseling, HIV testing, and STI testing and treatment — in many instances with a particular focus on at-risk or hard to reach populations. Without these critical partnerships, Texans may delay or go without this vital care.
In 2018, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast provided 69,000 tests for STI & HIV in the greater Houston metro area, a 19% increase over 2017. We need more providers in Houston and Harris County providing STD testing and treatment to address our high rates of STDs, not fewer.
Even more alarming, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is the second largest safety-net provider in the case of a public health emergency.
If there were an outbreak of Zika virus, or similar communal disease, this legislation would prohibit Houston from partnering with one of the principal providers in the Houston area. This represents a critical threat to the public health of the Gulf Coast region.
The City of Houston is committed to driving economic growth, ensuring the safety and security of our communities, and increasing opportunity for all. Access to affordable health care is critical to those efforts and politicizing health care only undermines them.
The legislation passed the Senate 20-11. The House passed SB 22 with amendments 81-65. The Senate concurred with the House amendments 20-11. The City of Houston opposed passage of SB 22.