The war on Planned Parenthood continues in Texas, and Colorlines‘ Akiba Solomon writes that many Planned Parenthood centers are already closed because of lack of funding. After a federal judge ruled that the Texas Health and Human Services Department could not defund Planned Parenthood by cutting the organization out of the state’s Women’s Health Program budget, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed an appeal and secured an emergency stay from New Orleans Judge Jerry Smith, of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Now women who are dependent on health care offered in low-income areas are suffering shuttered doors and poor health thanks to legal red tape.
This latest skirmish began in mid-April when Texas-based Planned Parenthood affiliates that don‘t perform abortions sued the state to stop a law Republicans passed in late February that would make them ineligible for WHP because they share a name with clinics that offer the procedure. The plaintiffs argue that they are legally and financially separate from those that perform abortions (which are still legal, by the way); that WHP patients have a right to choose where they get their healthcare (duh); and that many will not have a viable alternative to Planned Parenthood.
In his 25-page decision, Yeakel seemed to agree, writing, “The record demonstrates that plaintiffs currently provide a critical component of Texas‘ family-planning services to low-income women. The court is unconvinced that Texas will be able to find substitute providers for these women in the immediate future, despite its stated intention to do so.”
Indeed, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country and 35 percent of women ages 15 to 44 are not covered. Last year, the governor slashed its Medicaid budget by two thirds. And in March, Governor Rick Perry turned down $35 million in federal funds that underwrite WHP because the Obama administration (rightly) refused to let him cut Planned Parenthood from its network of providers on ideological grounds. Since then, the cash-strapped state has been claiming that it will fully fund the WHP using its own dollars.
Read Akiba Solomon’s entire op-ed at Colorlines.