The Top 5 Things You Need to Know Right Now About Attacks on Reproductive Health in Texas
By Miriam Berg | Oct. 30, 2015, 10:51 a.m.
Category: Abortion Access, Attacks on Planned Parenthood
#1) The Most Recent Attacks Are Part of a Systematic, Long-Term Agenda to Ban Safe and Legal Abortion
Just look at our timeline of the past five years to see how the Republican leadership in Texas has gutted women’s health. Since 2011, these years of hostile policies have already left tens of thousands of Texas women without access to lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, HIV tests and other preventive care:
2011-2012: Texas slashed state funding for family planning by a whopping two-thirds and dismantled the Medicaid Women's Health Program — essentially ending federal funding for organizations that believe that women should have access to safe, legal abortion (like Planned Parenthood).
2013-2014: Extreme abortion restrictions forced over half of the state's abortion providers to close.
Summer 2015: This June, Texas banned Planned Parenthood from the state's Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program, which provides vital screenings to low-income and uninsured women.
The result: Extreme politicians have decimated access to preventive reproductive health care in Texas. What’s more, by forcing the closure of health centers that provide safe, legal abortion across the state, they have forced women to wait up to 20 days or more for an abortion (if they can access one at all). These extreme anti-abortion policies are dangerous for women.
#2) Texas Is Blocking Medicaid Patients from Receiving Care at Planned Parenthood
On Oct. 19, the state announced plans to terminate Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contracts. This extreme measure jeopardizes access to reproductive health care for thousands of women, men, and young people in Texas.
Texas officials cite two entirely illegitimate reasons for this action:
The settlement more than two years ago of a lawsuit that clearly states it cannot be used to attack Planned Parenthood, and
The heavily edited and deceptive videos from anti-abortion extremists that have been thoroughly discredited. In Texas — as in Congress — news reports have confirmed that politicians are working in coordination with the anti-abortion extremists behind the fraudulent videos to advance a dangerous agenda to ban safe and legal abortion in this country.
Texas officials’ similar past efforts to block women from health care had devastating results:
“Kicking Planned Parenthood out of the Texas Women’s Health Program proved to be a terrible idea in 2013, one that jeopardized the health of women and babies, reduced access to health care, and increased costs for the state. In Texas we’re usually good about learning from our mistakes, but not so much where women’s health is concerned,” wrote Center for Public Policy Priorities Senior Policy Analyst Stacey Pogue.
Pogue added that other health care providers were not able to fully take on Planned Parenthood’s previous patients in years past, and there’s no reason to think they could now.
#3) Texas Officials Raided Planned Parenthood Health Centers
Just three days after the Medicaid contract announcement, Texas officials armed with subpoenas showed up unannounced at Planned Parenthood health centers. In Brownsville, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, representatives from the Texas Office of Inspector General demanded that the health centers produce Medicaid patients’ medical records and agency administrative records.
They also initially made an unprecedented demand that Planned Parenthood turn over personnel information, such as the phone numbers and home addresses of doctors and staff, but have since rescinded that demand.
#4) Texas Officials Are “Shooting First, Asking Questions Later” — And Making a Spectacle of It
How did the state announce it would end Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contracts? Through the press. Literally. Planned Parenthood Texas affiliates first learned of the notice to terminate its Medicaid contracts from a reporter. Let’s say that again: Reporters received notice of the contract termination prior to Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Three days later, state investigators made their unannounced visits to Planned Parenthood’s health centers, seemingly looking for an excuse to justify the state’s politically motivated actions earlier in the week. That’s right. These “inspections” were conducted AFTER Texas had already announced it was terminating Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contracts. If that seems backward, it’s because it is. The course of action led one editorial to characterize it as a “shoot first, ask questions later” ploy.
Speaking of “asking questions later,” according to a Texas Health and Human Services Commission official, the “notice of termination” sent to Planned Parenthood was the start of a civil enforcement process and not a final determination to terminate Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contracts — but the language in the notice sure seems final....
The notice itself stated: “The State has determined that you and your Planned Parenthood affiliates are no longer capable of performing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner.”
The office of Gov. Greg Abbott stated in a press release that Texas ended “taxpayer funding” for Planned Parenthood.
The governor’s state Twitter account summed up the press release: “Consistent w/ my LIFE Initiative, @TexasOIG today issued a letter ending Medicaid participation for @PPact in Texas.”
To further underscore the political motivations behind these raids, officials in San Antonio showed up at Planned Parenthood’s health center at the same time as a reporter. Coincidence?
#5) Planned Parenthood Health Centers Aren’t Going Anywhere
Extreme politicians in Texas, in Congress, and throughout the country have made clear they will stop at nothing — pushing lies, misinformation, and fabrications — to end access to safe and legal abortion.
All these raids, investigations, and bogus video footage ultimately reveal the same thing: Planned Parenthood is providing professional, compassionate, and quality health care. That’s it.
While anti-abortion politicians work to create a Texas where women have nowhere to turn for safe, legal abortion or basic reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood’s doors will stay open and continue to provide essential reproductive health care for millions of women, men, and young people across the country — no matter what.
Tags: Abortion, Texas, Planned Parenthood, Greg Abbott, Medicaid, State Attacks