Pro-Lifers’ delight over Obama’s refusal to allow Plan B, the “morning after pill,” to be sold over the counter to young girls has been short lived. Obama and his administration came under vicious attack from pro-abortion groups and news outlets for the decision; now he is proving his allegiance to women’s “reproductive rights” once again by—ironically—threatening to shut down the Texas Women’s Health Program.
Earlier this year, the Texas legislature passed new Pro-Life rules that disqualified medical centers affiliated with the abortion industry from receiving funds through the Texas Women’s Health Program, a Medicaid waiver program, for family planning services.
Planned Parenthood lobbied heavily this past May to reinstate their inclusion in the program. In fact, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, advocated for legislators to defeat a bill that would renew the program. She would rather the entire program be shut down than for Planned Parenthood to be excluded. Obama feels the same way.
According to Planned Parenthood’s own testimony prior to their disqualification, the abortion provider received 45 percent of the entire budget of the Texas Women’s Health Program. As far as Richards and Obama are concerned, if Planned Parenthood can’t have the funds, then no one can. Obama’s plans to capitulate to the abortion industry means forcing taxpayers to fund Planned Parenthood and its affiliates in Texas, even after the state voted to deny them funding under this one program.
The program is up for renewal at the end of this month, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it would not approve the renewal of the federally-funded program without the inclusion of Planned Parenthood. The Texas Health and Human Services officials chided the CMS, saying that it is misinterpreting federal law to simply fight Pro-Life laws and state policies that were enacted by the legislature.
Texas has already demonstrated that the new rules are legal. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released two opinions in February clarifying that the state could enact rules and regulations for its participation in federally-funded programs without conflicting with federal law.
If the Texas Women’s Health Program is renewed without the nation’s largest abortion provider included, millions of dollars can be given to women’s health organizations that provide health care but do not perform abortions.
Even if the Obama administration gets its way and the Texas Women’s Health Program is not renewed, we must remember that $60 million in cuts made to other areas of the state budget that reduced funding for Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry will stay in place. Those funds were reallocated to other, more-deserving programs such as autism funding and early-childhood education.