Texas: on the path to defunding Planned Parenthood

This past week, the fight to defund Planned Parenthood has been fought in Texas. With conflicting orders issued from the District Court and Court of Appeals, this fight is far from over. The history leading to the events of last week is found in the District Court’s order.

Back in 2005, the Texas legislature established the Women’s Health Program, to “expand access to preventative health and family-planning services for uninsured women, ages 18-44, with a net family income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.” Medicaid funds were used, allowing the program to receive 90% of its funding through federal money.

Photo Credit: jstephenconn on flicker

While the 2005 act contained language that disallowed the use of funds “to perform or promote elective abortions” and prohibited the Commission from contracting with “entities that perform or promote elective abortions or are affiliates of entities that perform or promote elective abortions,” Planned Parenthood was allowed to take part in the program.

This brings us to February of 2012. The words “affiliate” and “promote” were defined. Planned Parenthood was given until May 1, 2012 to certify “that they do not perform or promote elective abortions, do not affiliate with any entity that does, and that [Planned Parenthood’s] failure to certify compliance with the rule would result in disqualification from participating in the Women’s Health Program effective May 1, 2012.”

Planned Parenthood was unable to certify compliance and thus asked the court for an injunction, which was granted last Monday by the Western District Court of Texas. That same day, the Appellate Court struck down the injunction, but the court then reinstated it on Friday. This injunction is only temporary, and the case will be heard the beginning of July to determine the outcome.

The president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Cecile Richards, stated, “This case isn’t about Planned Parenthood; it’s about the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams. … We won’t let politics interfere with the health care that nearly 3 million people a year rely on Planned Parenthood for in Texas and around the country.” But this statement by Richards doesn’t touch on the real issue: the fact that Planned Parenthood advocated abortions, and the fact that taxpayer funds are being used to support abortions. While the health of women is certainly important, it can be provided for by the many health organization that don’t encourages abortion.

Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell stated in court papers that “[s]tate law prohibits Texas from continuing to operate the Texas Women’s Program if taxpayer money must be provided to entities that affiliate with abortion-promoting entities. … Consequently, the district court’s preliminary injunction effectively forces Texas to choose between contravening state law and shutting down the program.”

Thank you, Texas, for standing up against the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions. While the fight is certainly not over, it’s encouraging to see steps in the right direction.

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