A Texas judge has denied Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary injunction against a new state law that requires state funding of women’s health clinics with the exception of those that are affiliated with abortion providers (CNN). As a result, Planned Parenthood will not be included in the new state women’s health program. Since Texas has already forfeited its federal funding for women’s health clinics as a result of its refusal to provide state funding to clinics affiliated with abortion providers, it is likely that the government of Texas has effectively put Planned Parenthood out of business in that state.
According to district court judge Stephen Yelenosky, “If, as plaintiffs argue, a successor program must be Medicaid-funded then the only legal remedy would be for this court to shut down the state-funded women’s health program, not to order the inclusion of Planned Parenthood” (CNN). His position states that since federal funding is no longer an issue, it is unlikely that Planned Parenthood would win if the case went to trial.
Governor Rick Perry was quick to show his support for the judge’s ruling: “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” (CNN). However, what isn’t completely clear is how the state will be able to step in and fill the gap now that the organization has been defunded. According to Planned Parenthood, it has provided preventive women’s health care to over 50,000 Texas women each year. Well over 90% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood are preventive services related to cancer screenings, disease testing and treatment, and contraception. It is not realistic to believe that the state can step in and fill this gap in services, especially since it has rejected all federal funding.
According to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, “Governor Rick Perry should not be able to decide which health centers a woman can go to for birth control, well-woman exams or cancer screenings. This case isn’t about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the women who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for basic care every day. Ending funding for birth control, annual exams, or cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood would hurt the millions of American women and families that rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for health care” (CNN).
As a result of Judge Yelenosky’s decision, Texas women will not have adequate access to vital health care resources, screenings, and treatments. In their effort to deny women access to abortion, Texas legislators have also denied them access to birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing. It will be interesting to see how the state copes with the rise in unwanted pregnancies and increased medical costs associated with diseases that are not caught early. It is doubtful that these same legislators will vote to increase funding for the social and medical services that will be needed to deal with these issues.