Texas doesn't need Planned Parenthood

Photo by John Jordan

The recent decision made by officials at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood marks a step toward higher health and safety standards for women and children. The termination is due to allegations of widespread violations and billing fraud at Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas.

After the Center for Medical Progress released disturbing video footage of top officials within the abortion chain, Texas was the first state to commence internal investigations into Planned Parenthood in July. The videos feature the abortion executives endorsing illegal practices that should automatically disqualify the abortion business from state and federal funding. The frank admissions about altering abortion procedures to make more profit are a key reason why Planned Parenthood is being rendered ineligible for Medicaid reimbursement. Particularly shocking are the discussions of the abortion executives at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston.

The most-neglected fact about the Medicaid contract story, however, is that affiliates across the state have already been found to have committed Medicaid fraud (allegedly in the tens of millions of dollars). This alone is reason for the state to end any and all taxpayer funding. In one case, Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates were caught billing Medicaid for services that were never provided and were not indicated (such as invoicing taxpayers for birth control in the name of women who had already been sterilized). Until now, Texas taxpayers have more than accommodated the abortion business. Regrettably, the abortion giant only had to furnish fifteen cents for every dollar they stole from the state and taxpayers once charged with fraud.

Even if taxpayers are willing to look past the horrific admissions of Texas Planned Parenthood employees in the Center for Medical Progress videos, and even if the state was willing to ignore the documented record of fraud, Planned Parenthood is not needed in Texas. In Austin, for example, Planned Parenthood operates three clinics, while there are 66 alternative clinics that receive taxpayer funding and provide comprehensive women’s health services without elective abortions. These alternative providers include Federally Qualified Health Centers, Community Health Centers and Texas Women’s Health Program providers and cost 43% less per client than Planned Parenthood.

Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature allocated a record $284 million for preventative health care, specifically for women’s health services. These funds will go to the thousands of providers in the Texas Women’s Health Program and the Expanded Community Primary Care Services Program, which were consolidated this week to the Healthy Texas Women program, and the newly restructured Women and Children’s Health Services budget strategy. Abortion is not included in these funding strategies, nor is abortion coverage needed in Medicaid.

The termination of Medicaid contracts is not the first time Texas has moved to stop funding to Planned Parenthood. For the last seven years, Texas Right to Life has spearheaded efforts to redirect all taxpayer dollars away from abortion providers and Planned Parenthood. In every budget cycle since 2011, tens of millions of dollars have been redirected to health care programs and providers that serve a broader spectrum of clients with a wider variety of services and do not center their business model on selling elective abortions to vulnerable, pregnant Texas women.

Even with the successes of the 84th Legislative Session and the attempt to terminate Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract, efforts to keep taxpayer dollars from the abortion industry are never-ending. First, Planned Parenthood will most likely run to a friendly federal court to petition for continued Medicaid funds, despite their unethical and illegal activity. Second, even if Texas succeeds in removing Planned Parenthood from Medicaid, the abortion industry, including Planned Parenthood, still receives millions of federal and state dollars in Texas. While the Legislature doesn't control some of this, there are revenue streams to Planned Parenthood in the state budget that should be stopped.

Texas Right to Life is committed to working with the Legislature to craft a permanent and enforceable law to reallocate the remaining discretionary taxpayer dollars that go to Planned Parenthood and the controversial abortion industry to comprehensive and life-affirming health care providers.

John Seago

Legislative Director, Texas Right to Life