News Roundup: Texas Senate Bill Would Bar Contracts Between Local Governments And Abortion Providers

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 2, 2019 1:36 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The Texas Senate has given initial approval to a measure that would block local governments from contracting with agencies that perform abortions, even when they provide other health services.

State Sen. Donna Campbell authored Senate Bill 22. While speaking on the Senate Floor Monday, the New Braunfels Republican placed her measure within the context of broader anti-abortion efforts in the state.

“In 2011, the legislature largely removed state funding from Planned Parenthood and abortion providers, but cities, counties and other government entities can still use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion providers and prop up the industry,” Campbell said.

One example Campbell has cited in reference to her bill is Planned Parenthood’s $1-per-year rental agreement with the city of Austin for one of its clinics. But The Dallas Morning News reports that that site does not provide abortions.

During a debate on the bill, San Antonio Democrat José Menéndez tried to add an amendment to allow local governments to contract with providers on other health care services, such as long-acting reversible contraceptives, cervical cancer screenings and sexually-transmitted-disease testing.

“As I mentioned before, Planned Parenthood South Texas has had 33,918 visits to their clinics in 2017, and only 5% were related to abortion services. That means the remaining 95% consisted of the needed health care services that I have mentioned,” Menéndez said.

Campbell declined to include the amendment in her bill.

Shelters and nonprofits in Texas are working to handle a surge in migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. One of those groups is Annunciation House in El Paso. Executive Director Ruben Garcia says the influx of migrants has led to a new development: His group is receiving people directly from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, for the first time ever. In the past, the only agency that released migrants directly to the organization was U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Garcia says one of the big differences he’s seen so far is that unlike ICE, the Border Patrol has not been able to provide transportation for migrants. He adds that since his organization works with more than 20 groups and churches in Texas and New Mexico to shelter people, a lack of transportation is a problem.

“Because the numbers get very, very high on the Border Patrol stream of releases, they’re all going to be basically restricted to El Paso,” Garcia says.

Garcia says on Monday alone, CBP released 240 migrants to his group.

The Baylor Lady Bears clinched a spot in the Final Four of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament with a win over the Iowa Hawkeyes Monday. During a press conference after the game, reporters asked senior Kalani Brown about her immediate thoughts after her team’s victory.

“I don’t know, I was just overwhelmed, and excited – just happy. We were just hugging each other. I wasn’t thinking about anything, honestly,” Brown said.

Baylor will face Oregon Friday in Tampa, Florida.