Marking the latest round of victories and setbacks for the embattled women’s healthcare provider, Texas officials on Monday cut off state funding for Planned Parenthood, just hours after a federal judge blocked a similar effort in Louisiana.
Planned Parenthood’s Texas chapters will be banned from the state’s Medicaid program over alleged violations portrayed in a series of controversial “sting videos” secretly filmed by the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress. The videos, which concern Planned Parenthood’s handling of fetal tissue, have been disputed as inaccurate and deceptively edited. One of the videos was filmed inside a Houston clinic.
In a letter to the state’s clinics, the Texas Office of the Inspector General claimed the funding cut “will not affect access to care in this state because there are thousands of alternate providers in Texas, including federally qualified health centers, Medicaid-certified rural health clinics, and other health care providers across the state that participate in the Texas Women’s Health Program and Medicaid.”
But Planned Parenthood said cutting the group out of the Medicaid program was nothing more than a crackdown on reproductive rights and would only serve to hurt the state’s poorest residents.
“This is just another baseless attack on Texans’ reproductive health care—the state is using heavily-edited videos created by extremist anti-abortion activists as an excuse to block access to affordable health care,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Texas executive director Heather Busby. “The ongoing politically motivated attacks on reproductive health care are creating a public health crisis. Low-income Texans have systematically been denied access to preventative health care including birth control, and extreme state laws have forced clinics to close and devastated access to abortion.”
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Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood executive vice president, added, “We will fight back against this outrageous, malicious, political attack in Texas with everything we’ve got, and we will protect women’s access to the health care they need and deserve.”
Despite the setback in Texas, the law was on Planned Parenthood’s side the night before in Louisiana as a federal judge ordered the state to continue paying the group Medicaid funds despite Governor Bobby Jindal’s efforts to cut it out of the program. The temporary restraining order requires Louisiana to keep funding Planned Parenthood for at least two weeks as its legal cases continue.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John deGravelles said Planned Parenthood would likely be able to prove that it did not violate any state laws and that the motivation to cut off its funding is unrelated to the group’s “competence.” The order may be made permanent over time, which would block the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals from defunding Planned Parenthood long-term.
“Based on the record before it, it appears likely that plaintiff (Planned Parenthood) will be able to prove that the attempted terminations against it are motivated and driven, at least in large part, by reasons unrelated to its competence and unique to it,” deGravelles wrote. “In fact, the uncontradicted evidence in the record at this time is that (Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast) does not perform abortions in Louisiana, is not involved in the sale of fetal tissue and none of the conduct in question occurred at the PPGC’s two Louisiana facilities.”
Melissa Flournoy, state director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said it was “shameful that Governor Jindal is trying to score political points by blocking women’s access to critical health care.” She called the ruling “a victory for the more than 5,200 women and men in Louisiana who rely on Planned Parenthood for care through Medicaid.”
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