Texas slashes underperforming anti-abortion group’s contract
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An anti-abortion group awarded nearly $7 million to boost women’s health and family planning after the state cut off Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers is falling short and will receive far less money as a result, Texas officials said Monday.
The decision comes a year after Texas hired the Heidi Group to help strengthen small clinics that specialize in women’s health like Planned Parenthood but don’t offer abortions. In March, The Associated Press found the Heidi Group had little to show for its work and had not performed promised outreach.
The evangelical nonprofit started in the 1990s and is best known for promoting alternatives to abortion.
More than $5 million in taxpayer funds pledged to the Heidi Group was for family planning services. But the small nonprofit hasn’t met their goals and now plans to serve only a fifth of the nearly 18,000 women originally projected, said Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
As a result, the organization will now instead receive less than $1 million for family planning. Williams said contract delays contributed to goals not being met.
“They didn’t reach their own targets during this first year of ramp up. We’re adjusting the amounts to make sure we are maximizing services for women through our contractors,” Williams said in an email.
The Heidi Group is led by Carol Everett, a prominent anti-abortion activist and influential conservative force in the Texas Legislature. She didn’t immediately respond to messages left Monday evening.
Everett has previously said some clinics weren’t cooperating with outreach despite her best efforts and that advertising she planned had been stalled by delays in state funding. Earlier this year, Texas health officials acknowledged to the AP there had been early struggles under a separate $1.6 million contract with the Heidi Group.
That smaller contract was for the organization to help boost a state women’s health program that provides low-cost breast exams, contraception and cancer screening. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are banned from participating after Republicans lawmakers cut off their funding in 2011.
Planned Parenthood and its supporters say the struggles show the risks of relying on unproven providers to serve low-income women. Everett said in March she hoped to serve as many as 70,000 women under the women’s health program. Williams said the actual number of women served was not yet available.
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