Texas politicians have set their sights on cutting funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, commonly known as Planned Parenthood, the largest provider for women’s health in the United States last year. Planned Parenthood has helped 130,000 low-income women in Texas, as it is designed for women who do not qualify for Medicaid.
On Aug. 21, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state could terminate funding to these health clinics because of their linkage to abortion, and a federal court lifted a junction that had protected funding until its trial in October. Planned Parenthood has decided to challenge the law.
The case started when Planned Parenthood sued Texas because the organization believed that the Texas law that cut its funding was violating its rights to free speech. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott argued, stating that lawmakers may decide which organizations receive state funds.
This decision to reject funding for Planned Parenthood came one day after U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin’s claim that in the case of a “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body “has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
UTSA freshman business major Stephanie Lara believes that the law is not fair, and expressed how helpful Planned Parenthood has been in the past.
“I had some situations as a young girl who couldn’t afford certain health services; they even give free exams as well,” Lara said.
The Medicare and Medicaid Services clinics are discussing also pulling funding from the Texas Women’s Health Program after November, believing it would violate the federal rules. The federal government has paid about $35 million for the program, with Texas paying about $5 million. Medicaid and Medicare provide 90 percent of women’s health funding.
“I really think they shouldn’t [cut Planned Parenthood funding] because it helps women a lot,” Lara said.
Cutting funding for Planned Parenthood has been a battle that Texas Governor Rick Perry has wanted to win for years.
“Today’s ruling affirms that Texas’ Women’s Health Program has no obligation to fund organizations that promote abortion-including Planned Parenthood. The Fifth Circuit’s decision is a win for Texas women, our rule of law and our state’s priority to protect life,” said Perry last month, responding to the ruling by the federal court in favor of Texas.
According to The Hill, a Washington, D.C. newspaper, the Republican Party believes that Planned Parenthood needs to be the first item to be cut from the budget in order to lower the national debt. That same report shows that from 2002 to 2007 the national organization and its affiliates took in $388 million more than they spent on programs and services.
The biggest criticism surrounding Planned Parenthood has been their pro-choice stance. “Look, the idea that we’re subsidizing an institution that provides abortion, in my view, is wrong. Planned Parenthood oughta stand on its own feet and should not get government subsidy,” said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to LifeNews.
Planned Parenthood does not promote abortion, which accounts for only three percent of the services the organization provides each year, and no funding is given by the state for abortions. These nationwide health clinics are to advise women on family planning; they provide cancer screenings, comprehensive sex education, rape victim counseling, HIV screening, and an array of other health services.
UTSA junior sociology major Tia Robertson is offended by the cuts. “They provide necessary service to all women, mostly those who are of low income and lack health insurance. We should be looking at the positive impact of Planned Parenthood instead of getting trapped into these political agendas-agendas that actively harm the lives of individuals and fuels the war on women” said Robertson, referring to the increasingly partisan debate on women’s issues.
On Sept. 1, 200 people stood outside the capital building in Austin to protest the legislation. The protestors held up signs criticizing that many of the lawmakers who approved the law last year are men who do not face the same health concerns.
“Everything is bigger in Texas, except for our appreciation of women’s reproductive rights. Although the issue is polarizing, I think we can all agree that if anyone is making any choice about anything, it should be the women that we respect enough to give them one,” UTSA sophomore political science major Alex Birnel said.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards recently spoke about wonen’s reproductive rights at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. In her speech, Richards exclaimed that women have come “too far” to give in to the types of legislation that voted to “end cancer screenings and well-woman visits for 5 million women, end funding for birth control at Planned Parenthood and tried to redefine rape.”
Suing the state of Texas is not the only response that Planned Parenthood has on their agenda. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is planning to spend more than $3 million on ads that expose Romney for wanting to cut its taxpayer funding. The $3.2 million campaign will feature everything from online ads to old-fashioned door-to-door politics.