It’s hard enough to understand why the Republican-controlled Texas government has so little regard for women’s health. But it’s downright impossible to understand why they have placed such a large target on the backs of poor women in particular.
In December, the state Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) notified Planned Parenthood that it would boot the women’s health care provider out of the Medicaid system, a public health insurance program for the poor that is administered by states, but almost entirely funded by the federal government. Removing Planned Parenthood from the program would eliminate more than $3 million in funding and leave 11,000 Texas women and their families in the lurch.
“Texas Republicans are playing games with the health of the most vulnerable women in our state,” said Amber Mostyn, a trial lawyer at Houston-based Mostyn Law and passionate women’s rights advocate. “Their flimsy excuses for cutting funding for effective, affordable women’s health care would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous.”
The Legislature relied on discredited allegations from undercover videos that were highly edited and fraudulently crafted in making its decision. Those who continue to believe the absurd allegations in these videos believe Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue recovered from abortions to make money—a ridiculous notion that the organization has repeatedly denied. Yet, it is these very claims that the HHSC claims represent Medicaid violations.
This isn’t the first time Texas Republicans have gambled with women’s health. The Texas Legislature had already decimated the state Family Planning Program, cutting more than $70 million over the past few years. As a result of these cuts, state funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides health care to 120,000 women in Texas, plummeted from $27 million in 2010 to just $1.2 million in the fiscal year that ended in August.
Republicans can keep pointing fingers at the silly, misleading videos that were created specifically to destroy Planned Parenthood if they like. But it’s obvious that what’s making them really angry is that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services. Those of us who believe that a woman should have the right to choose when and how to bring a child into the world see this as a beneficial service—a medical procedure that should be safe and legal.
By pursuing an ideological crusade that has closed more than 150 abortion clinics in Texas, Republican lawmakers are putting women’s lives at risk. While Planned Parenthood most certainly does not sell fetal tissue, what it does do is provide a bevy of important health services for women. Planned Parenthood offers cancer screenings, Pap smears, and HIV testing—any one of which can save a woman’s life.
“Texas Republicans had a choice of either helping vulnerable women get access to health care or fulfilling a vendetta against abortion providers,” Amber Mostyn said. “They’ve made their choice, and it should horrify us all.”