New Texas Law Defunds Planned Parenthood

Yesterday, I wrote about Wisconsin passing a new budget that defunds Planned Parenthood. Today, I see that Texas has just passed an “omnibus health bill” that also defunds Planned Parenthood, and for good measure turns Medicaid into a block grant, which of course will mean less money and fewer people covered.

Zandar notes that Texas now becomes the fifth state — the others, in addition to Wisconsin, are Indiana, Kansas, and North Carolina — to defund Planned Parenthood:

At some point somebody has to start asking why red states are so damn eager to deny women basic preventative care like this, other than the Koch Brothers are planning to launch a chain of drive-in women’s clinics, or that they’ve contacted the Bene Tlilax and have axlotl tank technology, or they’re just colossally misogynist doucheknockers.  Maybe all three.

I think it’s mostly the third option, and I would say these doucheknockers are colossally dishonest, as well as misogynist. They could, after all, say, ‘We know the federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives is used to provide low-income women with contraception, cancer screenings, annual exams, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; we know that not one penny of the federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives is used to pay for abortions, because federal law already forbids PP to pay for abortions with federal funds; but we don’t want women to have abortions whether our money pays for it or not, and if that means that women with low or no incomes and no health insurance have to do without birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies, or cancer screenings, or annual exams, or STD testing and treatment, then that’s worth it, and a job well done.” And if they were to say that, they would still be colossally misogynist doucheknockers, but at least they would be HONEST colossally misogynist doucheknockers. But of course that’s NOT what they say. This is what they say:

“If organizations want to do that, we’re not saying they don’t have the right to do that under the law. While we disagree with abortions entirely, they do have that right,” Wisconsin’s quotes Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action as saying. “We don’t have to use taxpayer money to do that.”

Of course, the women who use Planned Parenthood’s services don’t have the money or the health insurance necessary to exercise that right. Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action knows that, which is why she and her buddies work so hard to get legislation passed to defund Planned Parenthood — precisely because they KNOW that if those clinics are forced to close their doors, the women who rely on them will NOT be able to get abortions anywhere else — or cancer screening, annual exams, et al., either, but that’s just collateral damage.

The good news is that Planned Parenthood is fighting back, one state at a time. In Indiana, a judge has approved PP’s motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the defunding, on the basis that it violates patients’ rights under federal Medicaid law:

After a month of court hearings, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt decided to grant a preliminary injunction against a new law that blocks Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) from participating in the Medicaid program. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services already denounced the defunding law in a letter issued earlier this month because the proposed change violates federal Medicaid rules by denying Medicaid patients the freedom to choose a qualified provider.

Pratt said the Health Department’s disapproval of the new law, which could jeopardize all $4 million of Indiana’s federal planning money, weighed heavily on her decision.

“Denying the injunction could pit the federal government against the State of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse,” she told the court. “And if dogma trumps pragmatism and neither side budges, Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens could end up paying the price as the collateral damage of a partisan battle. With this backdrop in mind, along with the reasons discussed above, the Court believes the most prudent course of action is to enjoin the defunding provision while the judicial process runs its course.”

As a result of the injunction, PPIN will immediately resume serving its Medicaid patients, many of whom had been using it as their primary health provider.

On Monday (June 28), Planned Parenthood took the same action in Kansas:

A new front opened in the Kansas abortion war Monday when Planned Parenthood asked a judge to stop the state from stripping the agency of federal family-planning funds.

Already battling to get licensed under a new state law, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri filed suit in federal court seeking to bar Kansas from redirecting the money to state and local health clinics starting Friday.

“It’s disappointing that instead of focusing on expanding family planning and sex education programs, we’re once again having to spend time responding to politically motivated health care attacks,” said Peter Brownlie, local president of Planned Parenthood.

In Indiana, where there was a six-week gap between the date the state defunded PP and the date that PP’s motion to block the law from taking effect was granted, health providers have already noticed a chilling effect on medically necessary abortions. Via, reports:

Since the law took effect six weeks ago, The Star has learned, doctors at IU and Wishard hospitals stopped offering to terminate pregnancies for about 70 patients, including many with complications that put the patient’s health at serious risk or where there was no possibility the fetus would survive. The IU School of Medicine’s faculty practice determined that its doctors had to take that step to comply with the law, despite the fact that the law exempts hospitals.

The IU doctors are part of a private practice not technically employed by the hospitals, and therefore they do not fit under the language of the exemption.

These doctors — and likely many others — had to choose from a limited range of treatment options or send patients out of state for terminations after the law took effect May 10.

The law was aimed at cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood of Indiana. But the IU doctors feared that if they continued to terminate pregnancies — even in cases where it was medically advisable — they would also lose the ability to treat Medicaid clients, who make up a substantial portion of their cases.

The Republican lawmaker who sponsored the legislation is shocked at these unintended consequences (emphasis is mine):

The law’s author said the intention was to allow such procedures, and the state Medicaid agency disagrees with IU’s interpretation. But the controversial wording was inserted into the anti-abortion bill on the Senate floor — after a similar measure died in the House — giving no opportunity for public testimony about potential unintended consequences.
Briefed on the situation by The Star on Friday, state Sen. Scott Schneider, the author of the defunding amendment, reacted with surprise and concern.

“This was not the intent,” said Schneider, R-Indianapolis. “We exempted this type of medical procedure in a hospital. So if something needs to be fixed, we’ll look at it.”

Perhaps if Schneider and others like him took the time to actually find out what the medical consequences might be of taking away Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood clinics that provide medically necessary health care to women who cannot pay for that health care without said funding, they would not have to “fix” such laws after the fact — because they would not pass them in the first place.

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