Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Texas Ends Planned Parenthood Funding; Louisiana Ordered to Continue

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Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott cut off all state and local funding to Planned Parenthood in response to the 10 videos that show, in vivid detail, that the nation's largest abortion provider sells aborted babies, both whole and in parts. Governor Abbott's decision is part of his LIFE initiative and ends Medicaid participation and all taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood, as well as other abortion providers in the Lone Star State.

A Notice of Termination sent to Planned Parenthood's registered agent, Melaney Linton, by the Texas Office of Inspector General spelled out the reasons for the decision to end Planned Parenthood's Medicaid enrollment. The letter says that the organization is "liable, directly or by affiliation, for a series of Medicaid program violations." The letter also stated that Texas found Planned Parenthood and all its Texas affiliates to be "no longer capable of performing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner."

Governor Abbott minced no words in his denunciation of Planned Parenthood and its practices. He addressed his decision to sever all state funding of the recently beleaguered organization in a statement to LifeNews.com, which the agency published on its website. That statement said, in part:

The gruesome harvesting of baby body parts by Planned Parenthood will not be allowed in Texas and the barbaric practice must be brought to an end. As such, ending the Medicaid participation of Planned Parenthood affiliates in the State of Texas is another step in providing greater access to safe healthcare for women while protecting our most vulnerable — the unborn.

Governor Abbott also said that by this recent action, "Texas has stepped forward and shown its unyielding commitment to both protecting life and providing women's health services." Indeed, Texas has "stepped forward" and is setting an example for other states to follow. Not only did the state cut Planned Parenthood's funding, but it did so in a way that may well stand up to the type of judicial activism that other states' actions have encountered.

Planned Parenthood has argued in other cases that by ending funding to its affiliates, states are guilty of limiting women's access to medical care because they will be unable to get the types of services that Planned Parenthood offers. The Notice of Termination addresses this argument head-on. "Your termination and that of all of your affiliates will not affect access to care in this State because there are thousands of alternate providers in Texas," the letter states, "including federally qualified health centers, Medicaid-certified rural health clinics, and other health care providers across the State that participate in the Texas Women's Health Program and Medicaid."

The letter also makes it clear that the videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress were largely responsible for the decision to terminate all state funding of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates and lists the following points — based on the videos — in support of the decision to terminate funding:

1. Planned Parenthood "follow[s] a policy of agreeing to procure fetal tissue even if it means altering the timing or method of abortion" in violation of federal law, Texas administrative law, and Medicaid program guidelines. It is justification for termination.

2. Planned Parenthood "failed to prevent conditions that would allow the spread of infectious disease among employees, as well as patients and the general public" by allowing prospective buyers of fetal tissue to handle "bloody fetal tissue" without observing proper protocols. This also violates Texas administrative law and is justification for termination.

3. Planned Parenthood staff were either "not trained in infection control and barrier precautions with regard to the handling of fetal blood and tissue or they failed to comply with the minimum standards that mandatory training requires with regard to these critical public health and safety issues." This is also a violation of Texas administrative law that justifies termination.

The letter cites — as proof of these violations — the videos which were made of Planned Parenthood staff both behaving in ways that violate these standards and admitting that they routinely do so.

As LifeNews.com noted, John Seago of Texas Right to Life offered advice to any state that may want to follow the Lone Star State's lead. In an e-mail to LifeNews.com, Seago wrote, "One way for a state to stop or delay Medicaid funding to abortion providers and to Planned Parenthood is to launch an investigation into whether these abortion providers have violated state or federal laws or committed Medicaid fraud."

Seago also warned that the abortion industry will not take this action lying down, but will likely seek to circumvent the actions of state legislatures and governors by "judicial activism." He wrote, "What the abortion extremists, including Planned Parenthood, fail to accomplish through legislation, they seek to achieve through judicial activism; thus, Planned Parenthood is likely to run to the courts to protect their bottom line and taxpayer income."

That is exactly what happened in Louisiana, just as Texas was issuing its termination. Louisiana, which had terminated Planned Parenthood's state funding in early August, was sued by Planned Parenthood in late August. The purpose of that lawsuit was to force Louisiana to continue funding Planned Parenthood. In other words, Planned Parenthood sought — as Seago put it — to "achieve through judicial activism" what it had " fail[ed] to accomplish through legislation." Unfortunately, it was successful. On Sunday, October 18, U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles issued a temporary restraining order that took effect the following day — the same day Texas sent its Notice of Termination to Planned Parenthood. The temporary order requires Louisiana to continue funding Planned Parenthood for another two weeks. It will expire on November 2.

While the facts are different in Louisiana, the principles are the same, and it is a shame that a federal judge has so blatantly overstepped his proper authority to prevent the government of Louisiana from making this decision for itself. It is also shameful that this temporary restraining order likely lays the groundwork for a permanent restraining order that would require Louisiana to fund Planned Parenthood indefinitely. Even if that happens, it is not likely that the battle in the Bayou State will be over. Louisiana, encouraged by the success of Texas, will almost certainly seek other legal methods to end the state funding of Planned Parenthood's atrocities.

As the truth about the barbarous nature of abortion continues to come out and public sentiment continues to shift in favor of life, it may be that as William Pitt promised William Wilberforce toward the end of his long struggle against slavery in England, those fighting against abortion will find themselves "pushing at an open door."


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