Mar 7th - 8:48 pm
Hundreds of activists rallied outside the Texas Capitol Thursday, as part of Planned Parenthood lobbying day.
This year’s efforts had particular urgency, now that the organization has been cut out of the state’s Women’s Health Program. A bill making its way through the House aims to reverse that decision and bring back federal and state funding.
Another question looming the 83rd Legislative Session is this: Should Texas expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act?
Proponents say it would pull down billions in federal dollars to help the uninsured. Critics, including the governor, say it forces Texas to spend too much money on a program that needs serious reform.
We spoke to John Davidson from the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Anne Dunkleberg from the Center for Public Policy Priorities about the research behind the debate.
Sen. Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster Wednesday made national headlines. It also resulted in a new bill, proposed by Sen. Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, that would explicitly outlaw a drone killing on U.S. soil of an American citizen who doesn’t represent an imminent threat.
Our Capital Commentators weighed in on the significance of the filibuster and the proposed bill.
Jan 11th - 5:56 pm
A state district court denied Planned Parenthood’s request to participate in the Texas Women’s Health Program on Friday. Gov. Perry’s office released the following statement:
“This is great news for Texas women and further proves that Planned Parenthood’s case attempting to derail the Texas Women’s Health Program lacks merit and is nothing more than a desperate move by an organization more concerned with obtaining taxpayer money than with helping women get care. With this ruling, our state can continue caring for Texas women.”
Jan 11th - 4:57 pm
Planned Parenthood today lost its latest appeal in its fight to receive state funding as part of the Women’s Health Program. State District Judge Steve Yelenosky said he denied the injunction because Planned Parenthood would likely lost at trial.
In a statement, Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek applauded the ruling, saying:
“This allows us to continue to provide important family planning and preventive care to low-income women and fully enforce state law. We’ve got the Texas Women’s Health Program up and running, and we’ll continue to provide help to any woman who needs to find a new doctor or clinic.”
Jan 11th - 11:38 am
Planned Parenthood is resuming its fight to be included in the Texas Woman’s Health Program. Attorneys are back in court today to ask a judge to issue an injunction, clearing the way for Planned Parenthood to receive state funding.
Planned Parenthood was cut out of the program on January 1. At issue is state law banning clinics affiliated with abortion providers from receiving taxpayer money - even if the clinics themselves do not provide abortions. As a result of the state’s so-called ‘affiliate ban rule,’ Texas lost federal funding for women’s health care. Instead, the state is moving forward with its own self-funded program.
Planned Parenthood sued, claiming the new rule violates state and federal law and discriminates against health care providers.
Last month, a Travis County District Judge turned down Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order; clearing the way for the Health and Human Services Commission to cut off funding. Today, Planned Parenthood is asking for a permanent injunction banning the state from excluding it from the program until a trial can be held.
Nov 8th - 9:25 am
Our Sebastian Robertson has more in the video above.
Planned Parenthood will continue to receive state funding, at least until its lawsuit is settled or a possible appeal is granted. District Judge Stephen Yelenosky issued an injunction today, banning the state from excluding Planned Parenthood from the Women’s Health Program.
Under new rules, the state was set to exclude Planned Parenthood from the program, which provides services to low-income women.
Gov. Rick Perry and Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek have cited state law that bans public money from funding clinics affiliated with abortion providers — even if the clinics don’t actually perform abortions. Planned Parenthood sued, claiming the new rule violates state and federal law and discriminates against health care providers.
The state’s decision to implement the new rules prompted the federal government to cut off funding to the program. The money was set to stop flowing on Dec. 31. The state, meanwhile, says it is prepared to move forward with its own 100 percent, state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program. That program was scheduled to launch on Nov. 1, but was postponed due to the temporary restraining order.
It’s still not clear how Gov. Rick Perry will respond to today’s injunction. He said he would shut down the program altogether if the state was forced to include clinics affiliated with abortion providers.
The state will almost certainly appeal.
Nov 8th - 6:24 am
Planned Parenthood is hoping a judge will extend a temporary restraining order banning the state from excluding its clinics from the Women’s Health Program.
The organization argues federal law prohibits such discrimination against health care providers. District Judge Amy Clark Meachum initially issued a temporary restraining order two weeks ago. Attorneys are back in court Thursday to ask for an extension, ensuring their clinics are funded throughout the court proceedings.
At the heart of the issue is a move by the Texas Legislature in 2011 to further clarify the law governing the Medicaid Women’s Health Program. The Republican-led legislature moved to exclude organizations affiliated with abortion providers from receiving state subsidies, even if those clinics do not actually perform abortions. By excluding those providers, the state stands to lose $40 million in federal funding on Dec. 31.
The state, meanwhile, says it is prepared to move forward with its own 100 percent, state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program. That program was scheduled to launch on Nov. 1, but was postponed due to the temporary restraining order.
Gov. Perry has said the result of Thursday’s hearing will give the state a better idea how to move forward. He has promised the state will shut down the health care program altogether, if the court rules the state must include Planned Parenthood.
Thursday’s hearing was initially expected to be over by about noon. Instead, the judge called for a recess until 1:15 p.m.
We are expecting to hear from Gov. Perry this afternoon. He already released this statement, calling on Planned Parenthood to abandon its case:
“Planned Parenthood has finally acknowledged what we have known from the very beginning – their constitutional challenge is flawed on its face. Venue shopping and courtroom sleight-of-hand in no way helps the women of Texas. We see their stalling tactic for what it is – yet another attempt to unashamedly defy the will of Texas voters and taxpayers.”
Oct 26th - 7:59 am
Gov. Rick Perry is weighing in on a lawsuit filed today by Planned Parenthood over the state’s "Affiliate Rules Ban." He accused the organization of being "more concerned about its own interests than those of Texas women." His full statement is below.
“If there was ever any doubt that Planned Parenthood is more concerned about its own interests than those of Texas women, there is no longer. Having lost on its constitutional claims, Planned Parenthood has now turned to Travis County judges in a desperate effort to find some way to keep making money off Texas taxpayers. In Texas, we’ve chosen to protect innocent life. We will keep fighting for life, and we will ultimately prevail.”
Oct 26th - 7:35 am
There is a new development today in the legal battle over funding for Planned Parenthood. The organization is suing over the state’s "Affiliate Ban Rule."
Planned Parenthood argues the rule is invalid under state law. The suit comes one day after a federal appeals court denied Planned Parenthood’s appeal of a ruling excluding it from the Women’s Health Program.
At the heart of the issue is a law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. The Women’s Health Program was formed in 2005 to provide women’s health services to low-income women who would not otherwise qualify for Medicaid.
The program did not include using taxpayer money to fund clinics that provided abortions. Last year, lawmakers took the measure a step further when it reauthorized the law and banned organizations affiliated with abortion providers from receiving state subsidies. By excluding those providers, the state lost $40 million in federal funding to the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.
The lawsuit filed today cites Chapter 32 of the Texas Human Resources Code, which Planned Parenthood says authorizes the Women’s Health Program "subject to approval from the federal government."
It argues the Health and Human Services Commission was "not authorized by the Texas legislature to adopt the Affiliate Ban Rule because it makes the Women’s Health Program ineligible for federal funding."
Planned Parenthood has a separate lawsuit pending in federal court. That case deals with the constitutionality of the state law banning abortion provider affiliates from receiving funding. Planned Parenthood claims the statute violates its First Amendment right to free speech.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Greg Abbott has also filed a separate lawsuit against the federal government. He filed that suit after the federal government cut off funding to the Women’s Health Program following the state’s decision to exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from participating.
Abbott argues that the state has a right to determine who receives federal medicaid funding and asked the government to restore the money. In the meantime, the state plans to move forward with funding the program on its own.
Oct 18th - 11:08 am
Rules governing the new Texas Women’s Health Program will take effect, November 1st. Today, Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek released the guidelines.
There are some changes to the original rules that were being discussed. In its rules released today, the commission decided it would allow doctors to talk to their patients about abortion, as long as they are providing "neutral, factual information and nondirective counseling." They can provide patients with abortion providers information and phone numbers, as long as the doctors don’t contact the provider directly.
The new rules also go further to define exactly what qualifies as an "abortion affiliate." The commission requires that a clinic maintain "physical and financial separation" from any abortion provider. They also must have a separate governing board and cannot share any funds.
The formation of the Texas Women’s Health Program comes on the heels of the state’s decision to cut 40-million dollars in federal funding to the Medicaid Women’s Health Program and fund it on its own. At the heart of the issue is a state law banning tax payer money to any organization associated with an abortion provider.
By excluding those providers, the state lost federal funding; which paid for 90 percent of the Women’s Health Program. The program is designed to provide health care screenings to low income women. The decision excluded several Planned Parenthood clinics, which did not provide abortions, on the basis that they are affiliated with clinics that do. They sued the state. That case is still pending. However, their funding is set to dry up on November 1.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas CEO Kenneth Lambrecht released this statement in response to the new "Affiliate Ban Rules":
“Once and for all, we implore Texas to put politics aside and put women’s health first. The Women’s Health Program and Planned Parenthood have worked together to provide women with essential health services, including cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams, for the past five years.
There is no sound reason Texas should jeopardize this important program by cutting off access to the health care provider relied on by nearly half of the women receiving preventive health services in the program. It is shocking that state officials would rather end low-income women’s access to family planning and preventive health services altogether than allow Planned Parenthood to provide these vital health services to women who choose to come to Planned Parenthood for care.
Planned Parenthood is exploring every option available to protect the health of the more than 100,000 women who rely on the Women’s Health Program. Our top priority is ensuring women in Texas have access to high quality, affordable health care. We wish politicians in Austin shared this commitment to Texas women, their health, and their wellbeing.”
The complete rules and changes are below:
Aug 22nd - 4:46 am
Planned Parenthood is responding to yesterday’s 5th Circuit of Appeals Court ruling that lifted an injunction that prevented Texas from implementing a law that would eliminate funding for the organization. Officials released this statement, today:
“It is shocking that once again it appears that politics is getting in the way of women receiving access to basic health care. Today’s ruling allows the state to deny low-income, uninsured Texas women health care from their trusted provider-Planned Parenthood.
“Governor Perry has already thrown 160,000 women off of health care for partisan political reasons — now there will be more to come. The state’s ongoing efforts jeopardize the health of tens of thousands of Texas women.
"This case has never been about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the women who rely on us for basic health care including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and annual exams. We are here for Texas women.
“For more than 75 years, women and families in Texas have trusted Planned Parenthood for high-quality, affordable health care and information. We won’t let politics interfere with the health care that 52,000 women and families across Texas rely on Planned Parenthood to stay healthy."