Texas To Cut Off Funding For Poor Women’s Health Care At Planned Parenthood

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that Texas is now allowed to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood clinics that participate in Texas’ Women’s Health Program. Planned Parenthood performs abortions, which the state opposes, and therefore they are allowed to defund the clinics.

The program helps roughly 130,00 low-income women with health care; it aids women who would not qualify for Medicaid unless they are pregnant. The WHP has always funded Planned Parenthood clinics in the past; its mandate is not to fund “abortion-providing entities” and Planned Parenthood got around that by creating a separate legal entity to accept the funds to use for non-abortion health care. The state knew that and funded the clinics anyway. But then the state of Texas decided it was more de riguer and keeping with the times to defund Planned Parenthood over all this. It rewrote language saying WHP funding couldn’t even go to abortion-providing affiliates.

In April, Planned Parenthood sued and won an injunction against the law. They argued that the state’s move effectively tied their hands: the only way to comply with the new law would be to stop providing abortions. And anyway, the funding would not even be used for abortions. A court agreed that defunding Planned Parenthod violated its free speech (freedom of association, specifically).

But this week, the anti-abortion folks in Texas government were handed their victory when a judge lifted the injunction blocking the new law. It effectively said the state has the authority to run its health care program as it sees fit.

Doing so will be a tragic loss to low-income women:  in Texas, PP has been the Women’s Health Program’s largest provider. PP said the defunding will put the health of around 52,000 Texas women in jeopardy. These are real human beings lives we are talking about.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said, “We appreciate the court’s ruling and will move to enforce state law banning abortion providers and affiliates from the Women’s Health Program as quickly as possible.” Governor Texas, Rick Perry added, “The decision is a win for Texas women, our rule of law and our state’s priority to protect life.”

I don’t know. Forcing PP to choose between providing abortions or providing all the other health care services they offer sounds like anything but a win.

[Reproductive Rights Reality Check]
[Ms. Magazine]

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