By Dave Andrusko
Eight affiliates of Texas Planned Parenthood filed suit in Austin today asking the federal courts for an injunction to stop the state from enforcing rules that disqualify abortion business affiliates from participating in the Texas’ Women’s Health Program. The lawsuit says the rules violate their rights by putting an “unconstitutional condition on their participation,” alleging further that the Health and Human Services Commission (which is enforcing the rule) “overstepped its authority in adopting a rule that conflicts with the purpose of the laws that created the program.”
The Planned Parenthood groups have asked the federal court to block the state from enforcing the law before April 30, when the clinics would lose funding.
Last December, the Obama Administration’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMMS) refused to renew $40 million in funding for Texas’ Women’s Health Program. Pro-life Gov. Rick Perry has vowed to find other sources of funding to continue the program.
“America’s largest abortion chain is desperate to keep their hands in the pockets of taxpayers,” said Elizabeth Graham, Director of Texas Right to Life. “The Legislature redirected a large portion of so-called family planning funds away from the abortion industry and also passed other prolife funding measures, and Planned Parenthood will stop at nothing to force its agenda on taxpayers and on low income women.”
The state has full authority to set up parameters for how state funds are spent, Graham added. “The state is never required to include abortion providers in any of its contracts, and state officials have determined the maximum value for the limited health care dollars is achieved by directing WHP funds to agencies that serve a larger population with more services.”
Last month Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sued the CMMS for cutting off funding for the Women’s Health program. “Federal law gives states the right and responsibility to establish criteria for Medicaid providers, so we’re on firm legal ground,” he said in a statement said. “We’ll continue to work with the Attorney General’s Office to fully enforce state law and continue federal funding for the Women’s Health Program.”
According to Texas Right to Life, The Women’s Health Program (WHP) was established in 2005 as a pilot project to reimburse health care providers for family planning and preventative care services administered to women who fell below the poverty level. In reauthorizing the WHP, the legislature incorporated rules to stop the program from funding the abortion industry.
Texas Right to Life had ample cause to lobby for the new rules, since Planned Parenthood—the number one abortion committer in Texas—circulated a letter in the Capitol, confirming that they provide over 40% of the services in the entire WHP. Legislators responded to this news by cleaning up the WHP so that abortion providers are not eligible for participation.
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