Over the weekend, Planned Parenthood officials confirmed that an Odessa abortion-referring center will close its doors permanently on March 9, citing severe funding cuts directed at the abortion industry in Texas as the primary reason why the center is closing.
On Friday, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs signed a rule banning abortion providers and affiliates from receiving funds through the Texas Women’s Health Program, a Medicaid waiver program that provides services including birth control and STD testing to low-income Texan women. Although the program rules already excluded abortion providers, the standard was never enforced, thus allowing Planned Parenthood to secure most of the program’s budget. When the state Legislature reauthorized the program last year, similar strong guidelines were included. Now that the rule will actually be enforced by Commissioner Suehs, Planned Parenthood of West Texas is forced to shut down its Odessa center.
The Odessa center is the 13th Planned Parenthood center to close after the end of the 82nd Legislative Session – during which Texas Right to Life successfully orchestrated a plan to redirect at least $64.2 million away from the abortion industry to other healthcare providers – but the first one to close as a direct result of the new Women's Health Program rule.
“Planned Parenthood undeservingly – and illegally – consumed 40 percent of the Women’s Health Program budget,” remarked Elizabeth Graham, Director of Texas Right to Life. “Texas Right to Life worked diligently with legislators during the 82nd Legislative Session to ensure that taxpayer dollars were directed toward those healthcare providers that best serve women. Texas voters and the Pro-Life majority in Texas have made it clear that they do not want their money going to abortion committers like Planned Parenthood.”
Although Attorney General Greg Abbott has already demonstrated the legality of excluding certain providers, the Center for Medicaid Services, at the direction of President Obama, will shut down the Women's Health Program unless Texas reinstates abortion providers' eligibility.
“President Obama is playing politics with women's health by forcing his radical abortion agenda on low-income women in Texas,” said Graham. “Texas legislators sought to protect and improve the health of women served under the WHP by clarifying that abortion providers are ineligible to participate, but now low-income women will be robbed of vital services due to President Obama's relentless support of unrestricted abortion.”
If the Obama administration does not stand down and allow the state of Texas to lawfully set funding standards for the Women's Health Program, the program will shut down next month.