Abortion has always been a controversial issue and will always be one. Whenever the political live wire of abortion is thrust into the political arena for any reason, it should be considered only on its own merits. Unrelated issues should never be dragged in.

Sadly, that is just what happened in Texas with the federally backed Women’s Health Program. When another issue, of health care for indigent women, became linked to abortion, Texas lost $35 million in federal funds.

The loss of the federal dollars threatened wellness examinations, cancer screenings and contraception for 130,000 economically challenged women in the state.

Now the state is in the process of establishing a Texas Women’s Health Program that will be state-funded.

One of the proposed rules would prevent participating physicians from providing “counseling concerning the use of abortion as a method of family planning.” Physician groups have objected, on the basis of its interference with patient-physician relations.

If wellness examinations and cancer screenings could have been separated legislatively from the contraception part of the Women’s Health Program, women who needed such services would still have access to them, with 90 percent of the costs covered by federal dollars.

As it is, health care for low-income women continues to be held hostage in a dispute that has little to do with screenings and examinations that could help keep them in good health.

— Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal