While most legislators in the 83rd Legislative Session returned to their home districts to enjoy a long weekend, Texas Right to Life stayed at the Capitol for the latest court battle in which Planned Parenthood (PP) was hoping to score a victory for “abortion rights” today. However, in a surprising move, the judge, who was hand-picked by the abortion giant, denied PP’s request for a Temporary Injunction, green-lighting the Women’s Health Program to take effect without abortion providers in the program.
Judge Stephen Yelenosky heard seven hours of legal arguments and testimony about the Women’s Health Program and the impact of excluding PP, America’s largest abortion provider, from the program. PP argued that women would have nowhere to turn for basic screenings and exams if the abortion giant were kicked out of the program.
The Women’s Health Program began in 2005 as a demonstration project to serve low-income women who do not qualify for regular Medicaid. In 2005, Texas Right to Life successfully added restrictions to the authorizing legislation, but these restrictions were never enforced. In 2011, when the program was renewed, legislators adopted Texas Right to Life’s language to clarify that abortion providers and their affiliates [including Planned Parenthood]were barred from participating in this taxpayer funded healthcare program. Since then, PP has filed two lawsuits to stop the newer, stronger Pro-Life rule from being implemented in order to remain eligible for taxpayer funding.
Planned Parenthood confirmed again in court on Friday that it wants no Women’s Health Program if excluded from the program. This—from the organization that allegedly champions women’s health? Planned Parenthood is robbing the pockets of Texas taxpayers while denying women access to health care at other providers and agencies that offer a full spectrum of services—except abortion. The Attorney General’s representatives aptly presented the HHSC findings on at least 1,500 new, clean, eligible providers who are not affiliated with abortion, sending air right through the hollow claim that Texas women cannot survive without Planned Parenthood.
What was not discussed in court is that if PP were granted access, then by design, the whole program would dissolve. The abortion provider claimed to be fighting for Texas women, but PP is really only fighting for public funds, while trampling women’s health. Ironically, while arguing about having to close clinics due to potential loss of WHP reimbursement dollars, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s annual report was released this week, announcing $542 million in government grants, which of course, is from American taxpayers. (The report also certified that the number of abortions committed in the last fiscal year increased to 333,964.)
The Texas Attorney General’s office attested to the Legislature’s authority to establish parameters for taxpayer-funded programs and that expanding the WHP without abortion providers is an appropriate legislative action. Three witnesses appeared for the plaintiffs; one presented herself as an indigent, minority patient who has suffered from the new rule. Her answers to additional questions under oath revealed that she had achieved a college degree, had served for years as an advocate for Vox, Planned Parenthood’s campus activity group, and then as a paid, community educator on birth control and STD’s for the organization.
Judge Stephen Yelenosky of the 345th District Court in Travis County, a Democrat, denied the Temporary Injunction within an hour after the hearing ended. The Women’s Health Program can now be implemented with the Pro-Life rule, crafted by Texas Right to Life in 2011, that excludes abortion providers from the program. This is a victory for women’s health in Texas!