Texas Planned Parenthood Clinics Brace for Funding Cutoff; NYT Editorial Blasts Court Ruling

August 23, 2012 — Planned Parenthood on Wednesday said that its Texas clinics are operating normally for the time being, despite an appeals court's ruling allowing the state to enforce a law that blocks funding to the organization, the AP/U-T San Diego reports (Weissert/Weber, AP/U-T San Diego, 8/22).

On Tuesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a temporary injunction against a Texas law that bars affiliates of abortion providers from participating in the state's Women's Health Program. The decision allows the state to block funding for Planned Parenthood clinics at least until a district court hearing in October on the organization's challenge to the law.

Texas officials said they would enforce the funding ban as soon as possible. Prior to the new law, WHP received 90% of its funding from the federal government, but HHS is now phasing out support because the law violates federal statute.

Planned Parenthood provides cancer screenings and other preventive care to about half of the 130,000 low-income women who are enrolled in the program, which provides services to low-income women who normally would not qualify for Medicaid (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/22).

Planned Parenthood spokesperson Rochelle Tafolla said that the organization's more than 60 clinics in Texas so far have been unaffected. "But we're also letting (patients) know that we're not sure how long that will be the case," she said, adding, "Because of the ruling, it's jeopardized."

State's Funding Plans

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has said the state will use its own money to fund the program. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission released a letter to the Associated Press detailing the state's plans to set aside $42 million through the end of 2013, in part through a hiring freeze for the commission's administrative posts and increased Medicaid anti-fraud efforts.

However, it remains unclear how the state will fund the program in later years, according to the AP/U-T San Diego. The commission estimates that without the program, the state would spend $148 million through 2015 in additional Medicaid costs as a result of higher pregnancy rates (AP/U-T San Diego, 8/22).