WHAT: Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis; County Judge Lina Hidalgo; Dr. Ericka Brown, Harris County Public Health’s Director of Community Health and Wellness Division; and Dr. Bhavik Kumar, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Medical Director of Primary and Trans Care; will announce a $6 million Reproductive Healthcare Access Fund that Commissioners Court is expected to approve Tuesday. The Fund, financed by American Rescue Plan Act, will help women get contraception and screenings at clinics operated by HCPH and other providers. Grassroots organizations will provide education and outreach to at least 20,000 residents. The Fund will build capacity for reproductive health care and services, expanding the services of smaller clinics and community health organizations.
WHO: Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo
Dr. Ericka Brown, Harris County Public Health’s Director of Community Health and Wellness Division
Dr. Bhavik Kumar, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Medical Director of Primary and Trans Care
WHEN: 2 p.m. Monday, March 13
WHERE: Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Prevention Park| 4600 Gulf Freeway, Houston, 77023
LIVE STREAM: Precinct One Social Media accounts: @hcpct1 or https://www.youtube.com/@CommissionerRodneyEllis
To fulfill a promise some Harris County Commissioners Court members made to expand access to contraception and reproductive health services after the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade triggered the Texas abortion ban, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and County Judge Lina Hidalgo will outline a $6 million program that will provide funding to under-resourced health clinics in target areas to support reproductive health services and screenings. Commissioner Court is expected to vote on the measure Tuesday.
“For me, this is a vote for reproductive freedom and essential health-care services that are life-saving and life-empowering,” Commissioner Ellis said. “This is about fulfilling the promise we made last year when the Supreme Court reversed a constitutional right to abortion that people relied on and exercised for nearly 50 years.”
Under the proposed Reproductive Healthcare Access Fund that will be managed by Harris County Public Health (HCPH), more people will be able to get contraception and screenings at local clinics operated by HCPH and other providers. Clinic operators and grassroots organizations also will provide education and outreach to at least 20,000 residents. It’s funded by the American Rescue Plan Act
The program, which will operate in ZIP Codes with a high number of uninsured people, will increase awareness and utilization of reproductive health-care services, decrease the transmission of sexually transmitted infections and improve health outcomes for reproductive-age people. It will operate for a two-year period beginning this month.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Texas wasted no time banning and criminalizing abortion in a state where families already struggle with high maternal mortality rates and access to health care. Texas’ uninsured rate is twice the national average, and nearly 20% of Harris County residents between the ages of 14 and 44 are uninsured.
“We are limited in what we can do to stop draconian, dangerous laws,” Commissioner Ellis said. “But we can use the resources and power we have to help Harris County residents access the health care services they need to make decisions about their health, family and future. That’s what this fund will do, and it’s just the beginning.”