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Anti-Choice Lawmaker’s Anti-Sex Education Plan Has No Teeth

Andrea Grimes

An anti-choice lawmaker in Texas has been touting what he claims is his success in kicking abortion "affiliates" out of public school classrooms by way of an amendment passed Tuesday night during the Texas House of Representatives' 18-hour budget debate.

An anti-choice lawmaker in Texas has been touting what he claims is his success in kicking abortion “affiliates” out of public school classrooms by way of an amendment passed Tuesday night during the Texas House of Representatives’ 18-hour budget debate.

Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) called abortion providers “sneaky,” claiming that his amendment would ensure “that abortion providers and their affiliates cannot access taxpayer funds through sexual education programs in our public schools.”

But, as written, the amendment makes no mention of Texas public schools—it only limits the kind of materials state health departments can procure or use with Texas’ allocated family planning dollars.

Leach’s amendment prevents the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) from using public funds for family planning or sex education materials “if the materials are provided or prepared by an individual or entity that performs elective abortions or an affiliate of an individual or entity that performs elective abortions.”

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State health department officials told Rewire that their respective entities do not currently disseminate sex education materials in schools. The departments are also forbidden from contracting with abortion providers or “affiliates,” and have been for years, as a result of anti-choice lawmakers’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in Texas.

HHSC spokesperson Stephanie Goodman told Rewire that participants in the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, a state effort that sends millions of dollars to crisis pregnancy centers, “may distribute sex education and family planning materials.”

Given the nature of that program—expressly intended to dissuade Texans from seeking abortion care—it is unlikely that any of its materials are sourced from abortion providers, and as a state-run program, it would already be barred from contracting with abortion providers or “affiliates” in the first place, just like DSHS and HHSC.

DSHS Media Relations Director Carrie Williams told Rewire that the Texas Healthy Adolescent Initiative, currently in “planning stages,” could potentially provide HIV and STD education to students in public schools, but that “none of the sites will be using materials developed by an abortion affiliate.”

Williams said that, if Leach’s amendment makes it to full implementation—the budget details must still be ironed out between the Texas house and senate this spring—it would not change anything about the way her department provides sex education materials.

Leach’s office did not return a call for comment on what he has called his “landmark amendment.”

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