Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Texas Will End Funding For Planned Parenthood Clinics

For most of 2012, Texas officials have been working hard to strip funding from the Planned Parenthood clinics in their state. Those officials advanced their anti-choice agenda on Monday, when a visiting judge ruled that Texas may deny funding from Planned Parenthood affiliates in the new year simply because the organization advocates for abortion rights.

Planned Parenthood has been embroiled in a complicated legal battle with the state of Texas as Republican officials attempt to exclude the organization from the state’s Women’s Health Program, which uses federal and state money to fund preventive care for low-income women. The organization sued to block Texas from discriminating against abortion providers, but Visiting Judge Gary Harger ruled that Texas may design a state-run Women’s Health Program that excludes qualified providers like Planned Parenthood — despite the fact that, on a federal level, states aren’t allowed to block qualified health providers from receiving Medicaid funds.

The new Women’s Health Program launches on Tuesday, and Monday’s ruling ensures that Planned Parenthood won’t be part of it. Before Texas Republicans began their crusade against Planned Parenthood, the organization provided preventative cancer screenings, contraceptive services, and family planning assistance to nearly half of the state’s 130,000 low-income women in the Medicaid program.

Texas’ insistence on defunding Planned Parenthood has already had far-reaching consequences. Some health clinics in the state have been forced to close — including at least 50 that weren’t even affiliated with Planned Parenthood’s national organization — leading thousands of low-income women to forgo the preventative care they need. Monday’s decision will almost certainly cause additional health clinics to close their doors in January, the lawyer representing Planned Parenthood pointed out.

Since the Hyde Amendment already prevents Medicaid programs from covering abortion services, the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas don’t actually perform abortions for any of their patients in the Women’s Health Program.