Two Democratic lawmakers from Austin have filed bills they say would reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies in Texas. The legislation would extend the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which provides low-income women with family planning exams , health screenings, and birth control.
The program is set to expire this December, and in a press conference this morning, Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Mark Strama said it saves the state $21 million a year by preventing pregnancies.
The proposed legislation would do a few other things besides reauthorize the Women's Health Program. It also would require school districts that teach about birth control to make sure the information they are teaching is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It would not change Texas' abstinence-focused approach to sex education (Some districts teach "abstinence-only" others teach "abstinence-based" sex ed, which may include information on contraception.)
“In other words if you’re going to do it, it needs to be scientifically accurate," Senator Watson said. "This puts decision making in the hands of the parents. That cannot be overly emphasized; parents are telling us what sorts of things they wish to know and this makes sure that they know what their children are learning so that they can address that at home."
The bill would require schools to let parents know what they’re teaching children in the way of sex ed, but it would not require them to change their current curriculum.