The Obama administration made it official on Friday by following through on its threat to cease providing funding for a women’s health program in Texas that serves low-income women because the state passed a law saying the program can’t fund abortion businesses.
The state banned Planned Parenthood from participating in the program along with any other agencies that do abortions. In response, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius traveled to Houston to make the announcement that the Obama administration would cut funding of the program and would no longer continue the waiver that Texas had previously been given to continue funding of the program temporarily.
The Obama administration claims banning Planned Parenthood violates the rules governing Medicaid while Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas officials disagree and maintain rules for Medicaid allow states the right to determine the qualifications necessary for those agencies allowed to participate in the program, which serves approximately 130,000 low-income women in Texas and provides cancer screenings, family planning and other health services to women.
Gov. Perry told state officials on Thursday to begin searching for ways to continue funding the program.
“We’ll find the money. The state is committed to this program,” Perry told reporters after sending a letter to Thomas Suehs, head of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, asking him to work with legislators to find funding.
“Those people that are out there trying to say, ‘Oh they’re going to kill this program’ are just dead wrong,” Perry said of the Women’s Health Program on Thursday. He said the Obama administration is “trying to support an organization that supports them. … But Texans don’t want Planned Parenthood, a known abortion provider, to be involved in this.”
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Perry accused the administration of trying to violate states’ rights “by mandating which health providers the State of Texas must use.”
“I will not allow these services to be denied by your administration’s political agenda and opposition to enacted Texas law that prohibits abortion providers and their affiliates from receiving taxpayer dollars,” the letter said.
In a statement to LifeNews, Family Research Council Action expressed outrage at President Obama’s decision.
“President Obama made a vow when he was running for president that he would stand by abortion giant Planned Parenthood – and that he has done time and time again,” said FRC president Tony Perkins. “He has peppered his administration with radical pro-abortion officials, and just last year he threatened to shut down the whole government if one dollar of federal money was halted to the billion-dollar organization. Now he is willing to risk the health of 130,000 low-income women unless the harbingers of death at Planned Parenthood get their share.”
“This administration needs to stop using women and the unborn as pawns in funding President Obama’s radical allies. Some on the left have said there is a ‘war on women’ – they are correct, and its lead general is President Barack Obama,” he added. [related]
Texas has applied to the Obama Administration for an extension of the program through 2013, with the condition that no funding go to organizations that perform or promote elective abortions or are affiliated with such organizations. Of the more than 1,000 certified WHP providers across the state, this rule excludes fewer than 100 Planned Parenthood providers.
Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life says, “The State has an interest in not promoting abortion when it promotes birth control. the fact that Planned Parenthood performs many thousands of elective abortions every year in its 14 abortion facilities in Texas was not lost on the Legislature. President Obama seems to care more about Planned Parenthood than about women’s health.”
Last June the Texas Legislature overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 7, which allows for the renewal of the WHP, on a Senate vote of 21-9 and a House vote of 96-48. The bill prohibits the state from contracting with entities that “perform or promote elective abortions or affiliate with entities that perform or promote elective abortions.”
Federal law allows Texas to exclude Planned Parenthood. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion declaring that federal law allows states to exclude abortion providers and their affiliated organizations from Medicaid.
“There are ample alternate WHP providers in Texas who are not involved in abortion. These physicians and clinics typically offer comprehensive primary and preventative care in addition to family planning. These providers could become the medical home for low-income women. The Obama Administration is about to deny WHP funds to these quality providers, and to the women they serve, just because Texas wants to fund these without funding Planned Parenthood,” Pojman added.
“Planned Parenthood is a poor investment of public funds. Planned Parenthood offers only a narrow range of services and is unwilling or incapable of offering comprehensive primary and preventative care. Planned Parenthood cannot treat breast cancer. They do not even have one mammogram machine anywhere in Texas. The only time a woman will see a doctor at Planned Parenthood is if she is there for an abortion. Women deserve better,” he said.