Planned Parenthood Is Having Their First Legal Battle Of 2013
5:30 pm, January 4th | by Colette McIntyre
On Monday, a Texas district judge refused to grant Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented the state from excluding the clinics from the new Texas Women’s Health Program.
After Texas legislatures passed a law blocking Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from receiving “family planning” funds dispersed through the state’s Women’s Health Program — in the process violating federal Medicaid rules by discriminating against a qualified provider — the Obama administration rescinded the initiative’s federal funding. Governor Rick Perry responded by setting up the Texas Women’s Health Program, a state-funded healthcare program for low-income women that defunds medical providers “affiliated” with abortion providers. Monday’s decision means that the Planned Parenthood affiliates that participated in the Women’s Health Program, none of which offered abortion services, will be barred from state funding.
As “RH Reality Check” blogger Andrea Grimes argues, this is about much more than a doctor switch:
It’s hard enough to find a health provider when the State of Texas isn’t telling you who it thinks is qualified to treat you. But Texas thinks it has a right to tell poor women they can’t go to their usual doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood, not because they provide inferior services or cost more money than other health providers—in fact, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Planned Parenthood has historically provided some of the most efficient, cost-effective family planning care in the state—but because they are “affiliates” of doctors who provide a legal medical procedure: abortion.
Prior to the launching of Texas’ new healthcare initiate, Planned Parenthood served about half of the 130,000 women in the Women’s Health Program. Planned Parenthood’s lawyer Pete Schenkkan pointed out that in many of Texas’ smaller cities, the Planned Parenthood clinic is the only provider of basic, reproductive and preventive healthcare. If these clinics were excluded, women would have to either try to self-pay for their preferred provider or travel inconvenient distances to a Texas Women’s Health Program participant. In order to supplement the lost funding, all Planned Parenthood clinics would have to start charging low-income patients for the vital services they currently provided for free. “That would cause many of these women not to seek care at all,” Schenkkan told the court. “Some of those women will die. Others will suffer devastating impacts to their health.”