What can the Pro-Life movement do about Planned Parenthood’s $1 rent in Austin?

Austin City Council has given the pro-abortion movement another gift paid for by taxpayer dollars.  On Thursday, Austin City Council voted to renew an unethical arrangement with Planned Parenthood, in which the abortion business is only required to pay $1 a year to rent downtown property owned by Austin.  The fair market value of the property is $111,000, indicating Austin is forfeiting large sums of money even though the city is bedeviled by financial problems.  Fortunately, the Texas Legislature is planning to address this type of corruption and abuse of power through priority Pro-Life legislation.

The dollar-a-year rental agreement between Austin and Planned Parenthood originated in 1972 and will now continue for at least 20 years, with another optional 20-year extension.  The City of Austin is so exhilarated over the new deal, they celebrated the “accomplishment” on twitter.  Planned Parenthood does not commit abortions at the particular clinic location in question, however, the practically free rent releases other funds for the abortion business allowing them to invest more advertising and selling their abortion services to Austinites at their other locations.  Furthermore, there are no conditions in the contract prohibiting Planned Parenthood from promoting abortion or even referring women for an elective abortion at their other location.  The drastically discounted rent clearly benefits the abortion provider at all their affiliated central Texas locations.  Austin City Council’s favoritism of the abortion giant is just one illuminating example of how local governments across Texas find creative ways to subsidize Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses.

During the 2017 Special Session of the Texas Legislature, a bill prohibiting these sorts of contracts and anti-Life arrangements was killed through procedural delays and disingenuous political games.  After the bill, HB 14, passed the House State Affairs committee with bipartisan support, Chairman Byron Cook refused to move the paperwork to the Calendars committee, where the bill could have been scheduled for a floor vote.  Though the policy passed in the Senate, moderate Republican House leadership killed the Pro-Life legislation.

This critical legislation will once again be at the forefront of the Texas Capitol when the 86th Texas Legislature convenes in January.  While prohibiting contracts between the state and local governments and the abortion industry, the bill will also prohibit any state or local funding of an affiliate that commits abortions.  While Texas currently has strong Pro-Life language in the state’s biennium budget, this bill permanently codifies those provisions and will extend those provisions down to city, county, and other local political entities.  If the bill becomes law, the current deal between Austin and Planned Parenthood would be illegal.

Even those outside the Pro-Life movement should acknowledge that the political and ethical controversies surrounding elective abortion should preclude any taxpayer direct or indirect subsidizing of the practice.  To Pro-Lifers, any tax dollars subsidizing an industry that profits from the killing of preborn children is an abomination.  Austin City Council once again demonstrated their eagerness to pander to the abortion industry, even at the expense of their own citizens.  Thankfully, the Texas State Legislature has the ability to reverse this imprudent decision by a local government.