Archive for: November 2015

Texas Triathlon

Feet the Streets provides local homeless youth with socks

Austin Powwow Showcases American Indian Heritage

Defund Planned Parenthood bill awaits Senate

Bill to defund Planned Parenthood awaits Senate’s 2015 calendar

By Haley Cavazos, Kyle Cavazos, Daniel Goodwin & Danielle Haberly

The Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (H. R. 3134) was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on July 21, and passed on Sept. 18 with 241 votes for, 187 votes against, one vote present, or “soft-no,” and five votes were neutral as “not voting”.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in federal funding each year, according to the Washington Post.

This all came about due to the Internet release of a video clip on July 14 showing Deborah Nucatola, senior medical director at Planned Parenthood since 2009, discussing fetal tissue donations. The full length video was later released, and can be viewed on Youtube.

Nucatola is seen discussing how she uses an ultrasound to check the condition of the fetus or organs that are of value, before she removes them. According to 18 U.S. Code 1531, performing partial-birth abortions, meaning the fetus is killed with further action outside the womb, is illegal.

This raises a huge issue with conservatives against abortion, lawmakers and many citizens with various moral standpoints. Nine more videos were released on the Internet, each has footage of Planned Parenthood officials allegedly discussing the sales of baby body parts.

Shortly after, Planned Parenthood released a statement. “A well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research,” said Eric Ferrero, the Vice President of Communication of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, is co-signing the bill.

“The recent allegations against Planned Parenthood are morally reprehensible,” said Williams. “There is no justification for the American people to finance an organization that has such disregard for human life,” Williams said in a press release.

Richelle King, Co-chair of Planned Parenthood’s Leadership and Advocacy Council in Texas, says her goal is to debunk myths and misinformation about the organization that the public has latched onto.

“The myth that Planned Parenthood sells baby body parts is a manipulation of language used to confuse people that aren’t aware of how fetal tissue donation works.” King says that women who consent to an abortion can also consent to donating fetal tissue for scientific research in the curing of diseases.

She describes the effect the defunding would have on the people of Texas.

“That would be a devastating blow considering a lot of the people Planned Parenthood serves don’t have health insurance or are low income families dependent on Medicaid.”

King says she is not worried because of President Obama’s speech on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Obama threatened legislators with a veto if the Defund Planned Parenthood Act is pushed through the Senate.

Joseph Trahan, University of Texas Austin sophomore PR major and Campus Director of the University Democrats, was deeply bothered by the news of the government’s plan to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood.

In response, he started a petition raising awareness and encouraging citizens to sign in support of the organization.

“The petition is also intended to give credibility to the claim that Texans do really care about Planned Parenthood, because there’s strength in numbers,” Trahan said.

As of the second week in circulation, the petition has gathered approximately 450 signatures, including former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis.

“There has been so much misinformation released to the public with the highly edited videos, with baseless allegations of fraud or tampering with abortion procedures that go against federal law. All these claims bear no fruit. No hardcore evidence can support these claims,” Trahan said.

Allison Peregory, Young Conservatives of Texas UT chapter chairman, weighs in on the debate.

“It’s been a major controversy because it questions the integrity of the organization, and it’s illegal to sell baby body parts.”

Peregory says YCT is in favor, along with Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, of the defunding act “based upon the fact that Planned Parenthood has now created doubt and has now created this question of character.”

Peregory backs her chapter saying that for her the issue is more about preserving the moral integrity of the state of Texas.

“Do we really want our money going to an organization that is involved in these kinds of practices?” Peregory said.

Peregory says that Planned Parenthood’s statement after-the-fact was just a PR crisis management stunt to hush the public.

In response to Trahan’s petition, Peregory says “it’s too little too late…this is the law, this is what’s happening and if you didn’t want that law to happen then you should have been protesting and should have been more active about it before.”

The Hauntings of Austin

Austin’s First Cat Café

By: Julia Farrell, Taylor Wiseman, Mariana Muños, Michelle Sanchez

History of Cat Cafés

Blue Cat Café is on a mission to provide Austin with coffee and cats. Although this is the first of its kind to open in Texas, cat cafes are becoming more popular across the nation. California, New York, and Pennsylvania are just a few of the states that have picked up on the trend in the past year. The idea of a “cat café” established the concept in Japan nearly 17 years ago.

For a light fee, customers can enjoy a meal while playing with some feline friends. The café houses a maximum of 25 cats at a time, all of which are shipped directly from the Austin Humane Society. That means that for each 25 cats housed by the café, 25 cages are opened up at AHS. Since its opening in July, the café continues to provide food and shelter for stray kittens.

“Most of the cats we get have never had a real home,” says Rebecca Gray, co-founder of the Blue Cat Café. “This is their first real glimpse at home life until they are adopted by a family.”

Blue Cat Café

A typical day at the café begins at 7:00 a.m. The kittens are all lined up at the door, awaiting the arrival of humans. After being fed, the owners do a cat count every morning to ensure that none are sick, as a disease within the colony can spread quickly. By 9 a.m. customers are lined up at the door. Due to health policies, all of the food is prepared in a food truck outside of the café. The food is then brought inside, where customers can eat and drink coffee in the company of the cats.

Blue Cat Café is also an adoption agency. Not only can you play with the kittens, but you can also take one home. The adoption process is simple: just pick your kitty and pay a $50 fee, which covers the cost of food, toys, and a bed for your new pet. Adoption opens up space for new cats to be sheltered at the café, which in turn helps reduce the stray cat population in Austin.

“We’ve been averaging over an adoption a day,” says co-owner of Blue Cat Café Jacques Casimir.

“We’ve had four yesterday, so we’d be on pace at this point for more than 400 adoptions in a year.”

Austin’s feral cat population has spiked significantly in the past decade. Places like the Blue Cat Café help reduce the stray cat population by taking in kittens and caring for them until they are adopted. Casimir says that they receive cats from AHS on a daily basis, except for weekends.

AHS does not keep a census of the stray cat population in Austin due to the overwhelmingly large number. Mike Di Tullio, AHS’ feral cat program supervisor, says that the growing population is a large problem for the city. In 2007, the program began a free Tap-Neuter-Return program in an attempt to control the feral cat population. It involves volunteers locating stray cats and bringing them to the clinic so that they can be fixed. This way, when they are returned to the streets, they are not able to reproduce at such a quick rate. This is yet another way that the city is trying to curb the number of cats on the streets.

Cat Cafés Worldwide

UT Student Directory Scams

Women in STEM rely on support systems

Planned Parenthood Loses Medicaid Enrollment In Texas

By: Vanessa Pulido, Alex Wilts, Michael Baez, and Jessica Stovall

When Traci Kirby, a University of Texas nursing student, started experiencing vaginal irritations this summer, Planned Parenthood was not the place she thought she would get treatment.

Kirby had previously visited multiple health clinics to help solve her medical issue, but the doctors had all prescribed her antibiotics, which weren’t working.

“I got on the Internet and looked for different places and I found Planned Parenthood,” Kirby said. “I thought they only did abortions, so I was surprised to see that they actually have full women’s clinics. I went there, and it wasn’t expensive at all.”

According to Planned Parenthood, abortions represent only 3 percent of its services despite popular belief that it’s the only medical procedure the women’s health group offers.

On Oct. 19, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas would end Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid enrollment following the release of controversial videos of group officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue.

Texas Capitol

“The State has determined that you and your Planned Parenthood affiliates are no longer capable of performing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner,” said a letter addressed to state affiliates from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General.

According to the commission, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas receive a sum of approximately $3 million to $4 million a year in Medicaid reimbursements through the state. U.S. law tightly restricts applying federal funding to abortions.

Kathleen Morgan, the former president of Texas Students for Life, a pro-life organization on UT’s campus, said she is happy Texas has cut the Medicaid contract since Planned Parenthood makes most of its money off of abortions.

“Usually abortion goes for about $450 apiece, so that’s their money maker,” Morgan said. “They say that only 3 percent of their services are abortions. However, we know from people who have left the abortion industry, like Abby Johnson, that this is a skewed statistic.”

The Planned Parenthood on E 6th Street.

The Planned Parenthood on E 6th Street.

Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director in Texas, has argued that the organization has unbundled services so that someone who visits once and receives a pack of birth control, an STD test and a cancer screening is counted as having visited the clinic three separate times.

Democratic legislative director Stephanie Chiarello said the Texas government does not actually have the ability to cut Planned Parenthood out of its funding stream because the organization’s financial support stems from Medicaid dollars, which come from the federal government.

“So the state gets a certain amount of money from the federal government and then they allocate it to providers,” Chiarello said. “Planned Parenthood is a provider like anybody else.”

She said Texas has the option to cut itself off from the Medicaid program, but it is not feasible to cut off funding to a specific health provider.

“[State politicians] know they will score political points by saying [the government will] defund Planned Parenthood,” Chiarello said. “So they’re saying that they’re doing it even though they can’t.”

Dry Creek Cafe and Dock