Texas Legislator Seeks Atty General Opinion on De-Funding Planned Parenthood
by Steven Ertelt
July 29, 2010
Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — A Texas state legislator is continuing his battle to ensure no tax dollars go to the Planned Parenthood abortion business, whether to pay for abortions or for other purposes. Sen. Bob Deuell, a Republican, is seeking an opinion from the attorney general in order to clamp down on the funding it receives.
In 2005, an amendment Deuell sponsored prevented tax dollars from going to organizations that "perform or promote abortions or contract or affiliate with entities that perform or promote abortions."
The amendment set up a "demonstration project" approved by the Bush administration that let the state avoid certain Medicaid regulations to obtain permission to siphon off the Planned Parenthood funds and send them elsewhere.
The goal was to make sure federal Medicaid money for family planning and women’s health,such as cancer screenings, went to legitimate medical groups rather than the abortion business.
However, Planned Parenthood set up a separate business entity that runs its abortion business from the entity that runs the rest of its programs. The Texas Health Department, relying on its own internal attorneys, decided that it could to prevent the funds from going to Planned Parenthood despite the law the Texas legislature approved.
In 2009, Albert Hawkins, who was then the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission, said, his department wasn’t able to "fully implement the prohibition against contracting with an organization that is an affiliate of an entity that performs or promotes elective abortions."
It cited several court cases that it said compels it to provide the funding, and so it awarded $5 million in grants to 12 Planned Parenthood centers.
Now, according to the Dallas Morning News, Deuell has asked Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott, who is pro-life, to issue an attorney general’s opinion on whether or not the health department attorneys are right that the Planned Parenthood funding can’t be stopped.
The newspaper indicates Abbott has six months to issue an opinion on the matter.
Planned Parenthood of North Texas spokesperson Holly Morgan told an NBC station in Dallas that Deuell is wrong to target Planned Parenthood.
Deuell points out that the new executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Thomas Suehs, is unclear of where and how the money should be spent. Deuel said Suehs is also requesting guidance from the AG’s office.
Deuell, a physician, said in 2005 that his amendment was necessary and pro-life groups applauded the vote.
"This bill will promote women’s health and not abortion," he said.
Stacey Emick, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, said at the time, "The bill would not have passed if it would not have exempted abortion services. The majority of taxpayers in Texas do not want their tax dollar to fund the provision or promotion of abortion."
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