Statement from the office of State Senator Kirk Watson

February 14, 2011
Contact: Steve Scheibal, Office of Senator Kirk Watson: (512) 463.0114
Beth Olson Drew, Office of Representative Mark Strama: (512) 563.0821

Sen. Watson and Rep. Strama file Prevention Works Act
Bills seek to reduce unplanned pregnancies by continuing support for the Women's Health Program and emphasizing education

AUSTIN — Legislation filed by Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Mark Strama would reduce unplanned pregnancies in Texas using proven, effective strategies that save money for taxpayers.

This measure, filed as Senate Bill 585 and House Bill 1255, is known as the Prevention Works Act. It supports what should be a bipartisan effort to protect and support women, parents, and children.

"This bill would actually reduce unplanned pregnancies among young adults and teenagers," Senator Watson said. "We need a new approach - one built on communication, education, and prevention - to keep these difficult, complicated, and often tragic situations from occurring in the first place."

Among other things, the legislation instructs the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to renew the Texas Women's Health Program and strengthen the program's outreach efforts. The Women's Health Program provides access to family planning services for low income women, saving the state millions of dollars in the process.

The federal government provides $9 for every dollar that Texas invests in the Women's Health Program. The Texas Legislative Budget Board recommended that the Texas Legislature renew the waiver and even expand the program as a way to save state money during this difficult budget year.

"The cost of helping women prevent unplanned pregnancies is a fraction of the cost of providing government services to indigent women and their babies," said Representative Strama. "Prevention Works is common-sense, middle-ground, and cost-effective policy."

SB 585 and HB 1255 also would require school districts to provide parents with more information about their children's sex education classes. And it requires that school districts use evidence-based sex education curriculum - without mandating that schools teach about contraception.

Texas has one of the highest teen birth rates in the country.