Rick Perry, Honorary Facebook OB/GYN, has tried with all his might to defund his state’s Planned Parenthood clinics because, while they provide tens of thousands of women in his state with basic health care, they also sometimes provide abortions. He even, in a particularly baby-with-the-bathwater move, went as far as trying to ban the organization from participating in the state’s Women’s Health Program. But today, in a win for uteruses and breasts across the Lonestar State (and the country), a judge has ruled that he can’t pick and choose who provides low-income women’s health care.
You may recall that lawmakers in Texas, encouraged by Perry, passed a law specifically banning Planned Parenthood and affiliated clinics (many which don’t offer abortions at all, on their campuses, in any way) from participating in the Women’s Health Program, which offers Medicaid vouchers to help cover the cost of basic female health care. And even if those waivers could never, ever be used for abortions (they couldn’t, because, remember, federal money is never allowed to be used for abortion services), the affiliation was enough for Perry to bar them. In response, the federal office of Health and Human Services dealt a retaliatory blow–which actually only hurt the state’s low-income and uninsured women–in the form of a threat to entirely withdraw funding for the program.
Planned Parenthood didn’t take the ruling lying down–instead, they started rallying and petitioning for a change to the law, using the campaign slogan “Don’t Mess With Texas Women.”
But women finally got a win today, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the law Perry pushed for is unconstitutional. From the ruling:
The court is particularly influenced by the potential for immediate loss of access to necessary medical services by several thousand Texas women.
Yup. Necessary. Medical. Services. Because that’s what Planned Parenthood and affiliated clinics offer.
Unfortunately, there’s a good possibility that this victory is only temporary–officials in Texas have stated several times that if they are forced to include Planned Parenthood (which provides birth control, breast cancer screenings, pap smears, cervical cancer tests, STI exams, routine anual exams, and other basic health care for women), they will likely can the whole program, leaving as many as 130,000 women without any access to medical care.
A recent study indicated that as many as one in four Americans has no access to health insurance, which makes, for many women, Planned Parenthood their only affordable option for any kind of visit with a doctor.
Image via US Today