Texas has consistently impressed me with their ability to hurt as many women as possible with their anti-abortion policies. Now that the state, and its governor Rick Perry (remember him?), are facing consequences for their decisions, things are about to get whine-y.
In 2011, Governor Perry signed a bill that restricted federal funding to Planned Parenthood organizations across the state, because they didn’t want said organization using that money for abortions. This bill, which was a Medicaid bill, contained clause that prevented ANY funding from being given to the Texas Women’s Health Program (which serves low-income women across the state) to go to any organization that provides abortions, whether or not the funds were to be used for abortions or not. I can’t believe people are still having to say this: Planned Parenthood is not allowed to use federal funding for abortions.
However, because SOME locations in the state of Texas DO provide abortions (with the use of private funds), the Texas government decided that none of the federal money allocated to the program would go to Planned Parenthood. This did not sit well with the federal government, as restricting a person’s choice of healthcare providers violates federal law. As a result of Texas’ blatant violation of this law, the federal government canceled its Medicaid Family Planning Demonstration Program, which negatively affects over 100,000 women who use Planned Parenthood for services such as cancer screening and birth control access.
Rebecca Acuna, spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party, said it better than I could have: “[Perry and Attorney General Abbott] are wagering women’s health in their political game of chicken.” Women are the ones losing this game. When Perry and the Texas government chose to violate federal law, the government had no choice other than to withhold $35 million, or 90% of the program’s total funding, that could have gone to help rural and low-income women access affordable mammograms, pap smears, and contraceptives.
Texas is suing the government, claiming that the government’s decision “violates the Constitution of the United States by seeking to commandeer and coerce the states’ lawmaking processes into awarding taxpayer subsidies to elective abortion providers.” They are arguing states’ vs. federal rights, one of the GOP’s favorite issues, but they seem to be completely ignoring the fact that they are the ones who violated the law in the first place. It makes Perry’s quote, “This is about life and the rule of law, which Texas respects and the Obama administration does not,” a bit laughable.
This whole thing happened because Perry did not want federal money to go to abortion providers. It doesn’t seem to matter to him that federal money was not, at any point, going to be given to abortion providers. The man who was elected to serve the citizens of Texas has such big blinders on, he can’t read anything past the word “abortion” and has ended up hurting the very people he promised to represent.
Hopefully there will be some sort of compromise in the coming weeks, but until then Texan women should cross their fingers that they don’t get cancer. And maybe stock up on some Aspirin.