Opinion > Star Staff
Texas ruling against Planned Parenthood puts women at risk
Earlier this month, a federal judge overturned a 2012 Arizona anti-abortion law targeting Planned Parenthood. According to an Associated Press article dated Feb. 11, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake claimed the law's ban on Medicaid funding for non-abortion healthcare provided by doctors and clinics that also perform abortions violates federal Medicaid law.
"A state may not restrict a beneficiary's right to select any qualified provider for reasons wholly unrelated to the provider's ability to deliver Medicaid services," Wake's ruling stated.
The debate over whether abortion providers like Planned Parenthood should be barred completely from being paid with public money for non-abortion services such as cervical exams is one that has been overshadowed by the "A" word and many politicians' crusades against the early termination of a fetus. While abortion and contraception are two very separate things, they have, for some reason, been lumped together and, unfortunately, many women will end up being the victims.
Unlike the Arizona ruling, Texas can cut off funding to Planned Parenthood completely. The Texas ruling requires thousands to find new state-approved doctors for their annual exams, cancer screenings and birth control.
In addition, a district judge ruled in December that Texas can legally cut Planned Parenthood out of its new state-funded health program for women. According to a Huffington Post article dated Dec. 31, 2012, the Texas Women's Health Program provides basic health care and family planning services to low-income women.
The health program previously received about 90 percent of its $35 million annual funding from the federal government. When state legislators voted to cut Planned Parenthood out of the program, the Department of Health and Human Services warned the state that if it broke federal Medicaid rules by discriminating against a qualified provider, it would no longer receive federal funding for the program.
Instead of reinstating Planned Parenthood funding, however, Gov. Rick Perry found a loophole and started a new women's health program funded entirely by the state so that it could continue to exclude Planned Parenthood.
The funny thing is, Planned Parenthood serves about half of the 130,000 women in the program, and none of the Planned Parenthood clinics that participate in the program offer abortions, according to the article.
The state's cutoff can also apply to otherwise-qualified doctors and clinics, keeping them from receiving state funding if they advocate for abortion rights.
So where do you stand on the issue? Seems like everyone has an opinion. The Planned Parenthood debate has generated just as much discussion as gun control. I have to side with Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein who, in a Feb. 2 opinion piece wrote, "So though the fight over Planned Parenthood might be about abortion, Planned Parenthood itself isn't about abortion. It's primarily about contraception and reproductive health. And if Planned Parenthood loses funding, what will mainly happen is that cancer screenings and contraception and STD testing will become less available to poorer people."
Who knew? Unfortunately, much of the discussion and debate has revolved around a service that only makes up about three percent of Planned Parenthood's services as of 2010, according the provider's website. In fact, the majority of services provided were STD testing and contraception, making up for 38 and 33 percent of its services respectively.
In his column, Klein uses a pie chart to show what Planned Parenthood provides and it really puts things into perspective. When you look at that and consider everything else that they do, it makes one wonder why many are so hell-bent on shutting it down. Besides, the Hyde Amendment already forbids Planned Parenthood from using the funds it receives from the government for abortions, so no Texas taxpayer money Planned Parenthood receives goes to that aspect of the organization's services.
Make no mistake that I understand that while three percent may sound miniscule, it equates to more than 300,000 babies whose chance at life was snatched away. It's horrible to think that so many lives were lost in that manner. If society really wants to do away with abortion across the board, wouldn't there be a way to do so without putting women's health care at risk?
I recently found myself in a situation where I had to call on a local Planned Parenthood when I found out that my gynecologist is no longer in my network and the only one who was within a 50-mile radius of me wasn't taking new patients. It was relieving to know that I could at least go to a Planned Parenthood for my annual exam - I've depended on them before in situations much like the one I am in now. However, because they no longer take any kind of private insurance, the exam would cost me $130. That might not seem like much for many people but I'm used to not paying anything for well-being check-ups like that.
Oh well, it's better than going without. Better get the services while I can and hope the protesters don't berate me as I walk through the door.
Kelley Chambers is staff writer and the arts and entertainment editor for Star Community Newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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