Thomas Hood, Contributing Writer
In implementing a new $39 million Women’s Health Program, the state of Texas is in the process of severing funding to the Planned Parenthood facilities operating within the state.
The decision to cease funding was made in August when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas could stop funding Planned Parenthood clinics, overturning an injunction against the state of Texas by a lower court. Planned Parenthood had filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that the decision violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. But because of Texas’ ability to directly regulate the new Women’s Health Program, which the legislature passed in February, the state was able to sever funding to institutions affiliated with abortion clinics.
Planned Parenthood has asked the full court to reconsider the decision.
“As things stand now, Planned Parenthood has asked the full Fifth Circuit to re-hear the case en banc because the decision of the three-judge panel conflicts with Supreme Court precedent,” said Danielle Wells of Planned Parenthood of Greater North Texas.
According to WFAA news, Planned Parenthood facilities offer health care services to about 40 percent of the 130,000 low-income women in Texas who do not qualify for Medicaid, but the new law bars state funding from going to any group affiliated with abortion providers.
According to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, an estimated 7,000 women in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will need to find other providers. Further, Texas will not receive federal funding for its new program, in part because of the exclusion of Planned Parenthood. Texas’ decision contradicts the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, through which Planned Parenthood has received federal funding.
As a non-profit organization, Planned Parenthood receives about a third of its funding through government grants, with the rest from donations. The state of Texas only contributed about five percent of those funds, but women enrolled in the Women’s Health Program will not be covered if they visit a Planned Parenthood facility for coverage, possibly causing these women to seek other providers and thus decreasing the organization’s patient base.
Similarly, the federal government provided about 90 percent of the funds going to Texas’ new program. Those funds are now gone; the state will need to spend about $35 million to fill the gap left by the absence of those federal funds.
Of the 3,500 providers of women’s health care in Texas, however, fewer than 40 were run by Planned Parenthood. As the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas spokeswoman Becky Visosky said: “There are a variety of alternatives to go to for truly comprehensive health care where women and their families can go to not only be screened for diseases, but actually treated for diseases.”
Others have voiced similar criticsm of Planned Parenthood’s medical coverage, including during a panel discussion on Sept. 4 sponsored by the Department of State Health Services.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Abby Johson, former of director of Planned Parenthood-affiliated abortion facility in Bryan, said that Planned Parenthood “is not an organization that can be trusted with our tax dollars and should not be trusted with Texas women.”
The question of whether the state can provide for the 130,000 lower-income women who relied on Planned Parenthood health care remains unanswered, since the state’s new program will not begin until Nov. 1, pending notification from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on exactly when federal funding will end and what will happen on the legal end with Planned Parenthood’s en banc appeal.