Austin pro-lifers vie to stop county from funding abortion

AUSTIN, Texas ? A coalition of pro-life groups in the Austin area are hoping to sway a county health board from renewing an agreement to use local property taxes to fund abortions.

For four years, the Travis County Health District has transferred property tax revenues to fund abortions at two Austin women’s clinics. Tonight, the nine-member health board is scheduled to hear public testimony in a special meeting about whether or not it should renew a contract earmarking $450,000 for the two abortion clinics and possibly a third clinic run by Planned Parenthood.

“No taxpayer should be forced to subsidize someone’s abortion,” said Jonathan Saenz, Austin-based legislative affairs director for the Free Market Foundation. “With the economy struggling and people concerned about losing their homes, they are wondering why their tax dollars are being used to pay for a procedure that is not necessary.

“Travis County is completely out of step with sound fiscal policy as well as laws preventing federal and state taxes from being used for abortion. Travis County is the only county in the state of Texas that uses its tax dollars to fund abortion.”

Saenz cited a CNN poll last month that showed 61 percent of Americans are against using tax dollars for abortion while 37 percent favor it. Federal law prohibits federal tax dollars to directly fund abortions, though Planned Parenthood, for example, receives millions in taxpayer money for its other services.

Whole Woman’s Health and the Austin Women’s Health Center are the two clinics that have received previous county funding. Saenz said he understands Planned Parenthood has requested part of the proposed $450,000.

“Our early impression is there is support for this [on the health district board], but there has been a lot of questioning from the public. We’ll see what happens tonight. We are encouraging people to stand with us at the meeting even if they choose not to speak.”

A signup for public comment was to begin at 5 p.m. at the Ned Granger Building, 304 W. 11th Street in downtown Austin. The meeting was scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

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