News Abortion

Texas Claims Women’s Health Program Capacity Will Increase Without Planned Parenthood, Despite All Evidence to the Contrary

Andrea Grimes

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has said that it will have absolutely no trouble managing the number of clients in its new Texas Women's Health Program, according to the department's own survey. According to everyone else? Not so much.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) claims that, according to its own research, there will be plenty of doctors available to serve clients in the newly implemented Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) without Planned Parenthood. The new TWHP launched January 1, and Planned Parenthood has been banned from participation in the program because the state considers it an abortion provider “affiliate.”

Not to worry, then: ignore the evidence, analyses, reports and investigations from George Washington University, the Center For Public Policy Priorities, the Dallas Morning News and Rewire showing a starkly different reality. From the HHSC Patient Capacity Report:

“Overall, the Texas Women’s Health Program patient capacity survey results are positive. In most areas, the survey found that the state has the capacity to serve even more women in 2013.”

The department estimates that its providers can see 147,513 clients this year—and it’s truly an estimate, given that 56 percent of the providers HHSC ostensibly surveyed did not even respond to the actual survey. For the providers that didn’t respond, HHSC guessed how many additional clients clinics and doctors might be able to see in 2013, based on how many clients they billed for 2012. HHSC surveyed providers within 30 miles of Planned Parenthood clinics that can no longer see the 50,000 or so Texans who’ve relied on them for contraception and cancer screening services in the past.

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For example: providers within 30 miles of Harlingen, on Texas’ Gulf Coast are projected to increase their capacity by 9,158 clients. And HHSC projects that providers in San Antonio will be able to increase capacity by a whopping 28,214 clients. The department also found that capacity will be “especially robust” in the Rio Grande Valley, one of state’s poorest-served areas in terms of health care, which has taken drastic hits already as a result of 2011 cuts to family planning services in the state.

HHSC Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek—a man who doesn’t believe the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate that more than a quarter of Texans are uninsured—said in a statement on Monday that the survey “gives us great confidence that we can continue to provide women with family planning and preventive care and fully comply with state law.”

Delusion, Texas-style.

News Family Planning

Lawsuit Challenges Arizona’s Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

Nicole Knight Shine

The Republican-backed law specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails "to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a federal court to block an Arizona law defunding Planned Parenthood, arguing in a legal challenge filed Thursday that the Arizona measure is “illegal.”

The GOP-backed law, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in May, specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails “to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Federal law already bars health-care providers from using Medicaid dollars for abortion care, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

In an 18-page complaint, the plaintiffs argue that the restriction is impermissible under Medicaid statutes, and they ask for an injunction on the law, which goes into effect August 6. Planned Parenthood said in an emailed statement that the law could slash funding for birth control, cancer screenings, and preventive care, affecting more than 2,500 Medicaid patients in the state.

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The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state Medicaid agency, did not respond to a request for comment.

Jennifer Lee, staff attorney at the ACLU, called the Arizona law “another attempt to intimidate doctors who provide abortion and to punish low-income women in particular,” in a statement announcing the lawsuit. Planned Parenthood operates 11 medical centers in the state, including three in underserved and impoverished communities with high rates of infant mortality, according to the court filing.

At least ten states, including Arizona, have attempted to strip Planned Parenthood of funding—the fallout from a string of deceptive smear videos masterminded by David Daleiden, the head of the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress, who now faces a felony record-tampering charge.

“This case is about the people who rely on us for basic care every day,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an announcement of the Arizona suit. “We’ll continue fighting in Arizona, and anywhere else there are efforts to block our patients from the care they need.”

The Arizona law represents the state’s second attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision finding a similar defunding measure, HB 2800, violated federal Medicaid law.

In April, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent a letter to all 50 states saying that cutting funding to qualified providers solely because they provide abortion care violates federal law.

Independent analysis suggests gutting Planned Parenthood funding exacts a toll on health care.

2015 report from the Congressional Budget Office indicated that health-care access would suffer under Planned Parenthood funding cuts, with the potential for $650 million in additional Medicaid spending over a decade and thousands of more births.

In Texas, births surged 27 percent among low-income women who were using injectable birth control but lost access to the service when the state cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

News Law and Policy

Missouri GOP Claims ‘Sloppy Record Keeping’ Could Indicate Planned Parenthood Wrongdoing

Michelle D. Anderson

Though the senate's Republican-led Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life stopped short of outright accusing Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (PPSLR) of selling fetal tissue, its members pointed to what they called "serious gaps" in the affiliate's record as an indication of potential wrongdoing.

A special Missouri State Senate committee released the results of its months-long investigation of a local Planned Parenthood affiliate Tuesday, continuing to push the notion that the reproductive health-care provider could be breaking the law in its handling of fetal tissue.

In September, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster affirmed that Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (PPSLR) was handling fetal tissue in accordance with Missouri law.

Even so, though the senate’s Republican-led Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life stopped short this week of outright accusing the St. Louis clinic of selling fetal tissue, its members pointed to what they called “serious gaps” in the affiliate’s record as an indication of potential wrongdoing.

The committee, which formed last year in response to widely discredited Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations, also released a nine-page report outlining its investigation. CMP’s founder, David Daleiden, was indicted earlier this year on felony charges in connection with the videos’ creation.

The committee’s chairperson, Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), said in a Tuesday press conference that Planned Parenthood could be obfuscating critical information and criticized the clinic of “sloppy record keeping.”

Schaefer, who also panned the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down provisions of an anti-abortion law in Texas, zeroed in on PPSLR’s use of formalin, a preservative that renders fetal tissue donation impossible.

The senate committee, Schaefer said, could not determine whether samples of the affiliate’s fetal tissue sent to the state pathologist had been immersed in formalin and speculated that Planned Parenthood could be using the preservative in a way that allows fetal tissue to be used illegally. The written report noted that although the health-care provider is only legally required to send a “representative sample” to the pathologist, PPSLR often delivered the entire fetus—suggesting to the committee that there could somehow be a sale involved along the line.

PPSLR issued a statement on Tuesday in response to the press event and the committee’s reported findings, saying that it does not, has not, and will never sell fetal tissue.

“Today’s press conference is just more of the same, as political opportunists in the Missouri Senate signaled their desire to shame Missouri women and men, and deny them access to quality, expert, legal health care instead of focusing on the priorities of the people of our state. The time for them to move on from this sham has long since passed,” the statement read.

Ultimately, Schaefer and his peers, including Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Glendale) and Sen. Jeanie Riddle (R-Callaway County), concluded that the committee’s investigation potentially contradicted the attorney general’s investigation last year.

In order to conduct its investigation, the Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life had subpoenaed Planned Parenthood documents just a month after Koster cleared the St. Louis affiliate of any legal wrongdoing.

PPSLR provided the documents in May, giving senate officials until June 20 to review the information, according to a news report by KOLR-TV of southwest Missouri.

Not long before receiving the documents, the Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life had attempted to punish Mary Kogut, president and CEO of PPSLR, with fines and jail time because the clinic refused to hand over clinic documents in attempt to protect patient privacy.

Other committee members on Tuesday criticized Planned Parenthood for allegedly endangering pregnant persons during emergencies by not writing “9-1-1” in large enough font on instruction documents for patients, and said the clinic should elaborate on its use of its digoxin in the second trimester and whether fetal tissue is injected with the drug before abortion procedures. Abortion clinics often use digoxin to comply with the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002.

Many Democratic lawmakers and pro-choice institutions have said the committee’s investigation is part of an ongoing attack against abortion care throughout the state. More than a dozen state and federal investigations have not found Planned Parenthood guilty of any wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, the Missouri legislature failed to pass an anti-abortion “personhood” amendment that would have led to a ballot measure in November. If approved by voters, the law would have ended legal abortion in the state by adding fetuses to the list of Missouri residents who have a “natural right to life.”