Texas willing to throw 130,000 poor women under the bus to stick it to Planned Parenthood

Via KYBOOMU, it seems that Texas, in its stubborn quest to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, is willing to sacrifice an effective and much-needed program that provides reproductive health care to 130,000 thousand low-income women.

Last year, the Texas legislature passed a law making it illegal for the state to provide Medicaid funds to any organization that is even affiliated with one that provides abortions. That means that even the many Planned Parenthood clinics that don’t offer abortions at all would be denied funding to provide contraception, cancer screenings, and basic preventive health care through the state’s Women’s Health Program. As it did when Indiana and other states pulled the same stunt, the Obama administration cried foul, saying that the rule violates federal law and warning Texas that it could lose its $40 million federal grant for the program.

Yesterday, the Texas health commissioner signed off on the law anyway. Now the GOP legislators who bent over backwards to defund Planned Parenthood, slashed the family planning budget by two-thirds last year, and have been utterly unapologetic about their true aims, are spinning it like they’re the ones who are concerned about poor women’s health. A spokesperson for Gov. Perry said, “The Obama Administration is trying to force Texas to violate our own state laws or they will end a program that provides preventative health care to more than 100,000 Texas women.”

Indeed, the administration is in a hard place. Denying the funding will shut down the program, but granting it–in addition to sending the message that a state can flagrantly ignore federal law to pursue their own political vendettas–will hurt women’s access to health care too. As Andrea Grimes reported last year, despite the claims of Texas legislators, when it comes to reproductive health care for poor women, Planned Parenthood’s kinda the only game in town. Last year, they served nearly half of all the clients of the Women’s Health Program. If Planned Parenthood loses their funding, it’s unclear who’ll be there to step up.

The lesson here: it’s hard to negotiate with people who don’t give a damn. As Augusta Christensen points out, while 130,000 people losing access to reproductive health care “seems like it should be a bargaining chip against anti-choice extremists in Texas’s legislature, those delegates have made it clear that they simply do not care about reproductive health care.”

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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