Last month, the state of Texas lost Medicaid funding for the state’s Women’s Health Program, a Medicaid-waiver program. The federal government was forced to revoke the funding because Texas refused to comply with federal law in its insistence on cutting Planned Parenthood clinics out of the provider loop for the program.
Now, eight Planned Parenthood chapters are directly challenging the state. They have filed suit Wednesday to block the state from cutting off access to its clinics through the Women’s Health Program.
The groups, none of which provide abortions, contend in the federal lawsuit that a new state law banning organizations affiliated with abortion providers from participating in the Women’s Health Program has nothing to do with providing medical care and is simply intended to silence individuals or groups who support abortion rights. Texas law already requires that groups receiving federal or state funding be legally and financially separate from clinics that perform abortions.
“The government cannot condition your participation in the health services on giving up your free speech,” said Pete Shenkken, the plaintiffs’ attorney, citing past U.S. Supreme Court rulings. [...]
The Planned Parenthood groups have asked the federal court in Austin to block the state from enforcing the law before April 30, when those clinics would lose all funding under the new rule.
Planned Parenthood is the largest health care provider for women in the region, and expect some 6,500 women to be cut off immediately, by May 1, when the state’s ban is to go into effect. They argue that there just aren’t other providers available to take on those patients, and the potential 130,000 women who will be cut off from care long-term.