This Should Be Good News for Texas Planned Parenthood (But Isn't)

A judge today ruled that the state of Texas cannot exclude Planned Parenthood from its Women's Health Program, which offers basic reproductive health care for poor women.

It's seemingly good news for the organization; last session, conservative lawmakers barred Planned Parenthood from the federal program because of its ties to abortion. (For the record, in Texas the program only serves women who aren't pregnant and public dollars do not fund abortion services.) Because of the decision, the state has lost federal support for the program, a big loss since the feds paid 90 percent of the program costs. Since then, Governor Rick Perry has promised to find funding for the program—a challenge given the state's serious budget troubles—and officials have outlined a plan for a state-run version. But even if there's money, without Planned Parenthood clinics, there's simply a capacity shortage.

So Planned Parenthood might actually get its way, and become part of the program, the state could get more funding and Texas' ranking as the state with the third highest rate of cervical cancer would at least not get any worse. Good news right?

Nope. Turns out, if Planned Parenthood wins its lawsuit, state officials will simply end the program entirely. That's bad news for the 130,000 who rely on it for services. From the Austin American-Statesman:

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel was a victory for Planned Parenthood that may prove short-lived. State officials have warned that they would have to cancel the Women’s Health Program if Planned Parenthood prevailed in its lawsuit.

According to Tom Suehs, executive director of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, state law bans abortion providers and their affiliates - specifically Planned Parenthood - from participating in the program.

“If plaintiffs obtain an injunction forbidding state officials to exclude Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program or any similar successor programs, state law will require the commission to cease operating the program upon termination of federal funding,” Suehs told Yeakel in an affidavit.

“The commission will not introduce a similar successor program unless otherwise directed by the Legislature,” Suehs added.

So there you have it. Planned Parenthood clinics are already shutting down for lack of funds. If it does successfully get funding, well, the state will shut down the program entirely. It's a lose-lose for the organization. Which not coincidentally, makes it a lose-lose for low-income women.



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