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The federal government announced Friday that it will provide additional funding to the Austin Every Body Texas nonprofit to meet a potential increase in clients’ needs for emergency contraception and family planning services. , now that Texas bans abortions as early as six weeks pregnant.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement Friday that the Office of Population Affairs will provide funding to the group, which is the state-wide administrator of the federal funding program of the Title X, which provides family planning and reproductive health services to low-income people. the patients.
Friday’s decision comes as the Biden administration challenges Texas’ near-total abortion ban in court.
The federal government is also launching a new funding program that allows any entity across the country, whether or not they receive Title X funding, to request and receive additional funds to provide family planning and reproductive services to families. patients affected by Senate Bill 8.
There is $ 10 million available for these two programs, although it is not clear how much Every Body Texas receives directly. According to the federal government website, the grant application for the new program, called Funding to Meet Urgent Needs of Family Planning Services, says they plan to award 10 grants between $ 150,000 and $ 1.5 million. by the end of this year. The announcement says Every Body Texas must use the money donated by March 31.
Neither Every Body Texas nor the federal government immediately responded to questions.
But the group thanked Becerra on Twitter on Friday afternoon for the additional funding.
“The light at # SB8, low-cost, free access to UC is more important than ever, ”the group wrote.
Becerra also released a memorandum detailing two federal laws that he said his ministry would enforce to protect patients who may need an abortion and health care providers who help pregnant patients in certain situations.
“Today, we are making it clear that physicians and hospitals have an obligation under federal law to make medical decisions about when it is appropriate to treat their patients,” Becerra said in a statement. “And we say to doctors and others involved in providing abortion care, that we support you.”
As of Friday night, it was not immediately clear how Becerra’s memorandum would impact the ability of people to access an abortion in Texas or the willingness of providers to perform the procedure.
The two federal laws Becerra referred to include the Emergency Medical Treatment and Church Work and Amendments Act. The federal government issued a memorandum reminding health care providers that patients presenting to the emergency room should undergo appropriate medical screening, stabilizing treatment and referral, within or out of state, regardless of state laws, including pregnant or losing pregnancy patients. .
Becerra said the federal government will impose civil monetary penalties on hospitals or doctors if they break this law.
Second, the Federal Office of Civil Rights has issued guidelines on Church Amendments, which prevent discrimination against health workers who oppose abortion on the basis of their religious beliefs. These changes also protect health care providers from discrimination if they attend or perform a legal abortion, such as an abortion where federal funds are used to terminate pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or to save the life of the pregnant person.
Governor Greg Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the announcement.
A national anti-abortion group, The Susan B. Anthony List, criticized the Biden administration in a press release Friday night.
“Texas is not California, no matter how hard Xavier Becerra tries to export his pro-abortion heritage,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the group, said in a statement referring to the home state of Becerra.
SB 8, which went into effect Sept. 1, bans abortions whenever an ultrasound can detect what lawmakers define as a fetal “heartbeat,” though medical experts say the phrase is misleading because the embryos do not have a heart at this stage of development.
Rather than the law-enforcing state, it relies on private citizens to prosecute abortion providers and anyone who assists a pregnant person to have an abortion after detection of fetal heart activity.
Abortion rights groups have said the law could affect at least 85% of abortions performed in the state. Since the law came into effect, many providers have canceled procedures or refused patient care.
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