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Taxes for death

Austin, Texas, is the only city that subsidizes abortion on demand for low-income citizens

Lisa Ishola remembers the day she went for an abortion. It was hot, but all summer days are hot in Austin, Texas. Ms. Ishola, then a 28-year-old mother of four, discovered she was pregnant again and wanted no part of it. At the time she thought abortion was her only choice, but she could not afford the $300-$400 price tag. Then she learned that, as a Medicaid patient, the City of Austin would subsidize her abortion, with her share coming to only $25. Low-income women in Austin can receive abortions, largely paid for by taxpayers, through a city contract with Austin Reproductive Services. The city's Medical Assistance Program has a budget of $200,000, which provides abortions for about 800 Medicaid-eligible women each year. Austin is the only city in the country, according to sources on both sides of the issue, that pays for abortions on demand. The abortion subsidy has garnered little organized opposition in liberal Austin (population 570,000), home to both the state legislature's only openly homosexual representative and to Roe vs. Wade pro-abortion lawyer Sarah Weddington, who teaches at the University of Texas. When the city council four years ago extended a five-year, $978,500 contract to Reproductive Services/Nova Health System, only one person spoke in opposition to the deal. Abortion funding in Austin is not new. The current system of appropriations began in 1983, but the city has been subsidizing abortions "one way or another since Roe vs. Wade," according to Dan Pickens, public information officer for the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department.

-Mr. Edwards is a journalist living in Austin.