Clergy Members Call on Legislature to Reverse Cuts to Family Planning Services for Low-Income Women

March 4, 2013

Clergy from around Texas gathered at the state Capitol in Austin today to support women’s access to birth control and to call on lawmakers to restore funding for family planning services for low-income women.

Speakers at a multi-faith event in the Capitol Extension rotunda released a statement signed by more than 370 clergy in support of funding for and broad availability of birth control for low-income women. Signers include Christians, Unitarians, Jews, Sikhs and Buddhists. The clergy statement and list of signers is at www.tfn.org/clergystatement.

“Far too often, religious voices have supported measures that undermine the freedom of women to make decisions about their own health and when or if they will have children,” said the Rev. Kelly Allen, pastor of University Presbyterian Church in San Antonio.  “But on behalf of hundreds of clergy from across Texas, we call on lawmakers to protect the ability of individuals to access birth control according to their own conscience or religious beliefs.”

Clergy members also expressed their concerns over proposed legislation that would allow employers, because of their own religious or moral beliefs, to deny coverage for birth control in insurance for their employees.

“The people in my congregation and Texans of all faiths believe decisions about birth control and family planning services are appropriately made by individuals – not their employers or the government,” said the Rev. Valda Jean Combs, pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Waco. “Bosses shouldn’t be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees’ health care decisions. Women must be free to make decisions about their own health care no matter where they work.”

A Texas Freedom Network Education Fund poll last month found that 73 percent of registered voters in Texas support state funding for family planning services, including birth control, for low-income women. That support included 73 percent of Protestants, 70 percent of Catholics and 66 percent of born-again Christians.

The Legislature in 2011 cut funding for family planning by two-thirds. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission estimates that those cuts will result in 23,760 additional births among low-income women in 2014-15. The additional cost to taxpayers of providing health care for those infants under Medicaid could be as high as $273 million.

The clergy statement and list of signers is at www.tfn.org/clergystatement.


The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support religious freedom, individual liberties and public education.