Last year the Texas Legislature sent Planned Parenthood to death row by trying to defund it. Planned Parenthood, feeling that it had been wrongly convicted, appealed the ruling and received an eleventh-hour reprieve. But an emergency motion filed by the attorney general put them back in jeopardy. The crime? Planned Parenthood deigns to provide affordable health screenings and access to contraceptives to lower-income and uninsured women through the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program. Last session the Legislature singled out Planned Parenthood by passing a bill banning any clinic “associated with abortion providers” (otherwise known as guilty by association) from the program.
On Monday a federal judge ruled that the state of Texas couldn’t enforce its ban, which was likely unconstitutional. On Monday night Attorney General Greg Abbott, taking a brief break from working on his gubernatorial acceptance speech, filed an emergency motion to appeal the ruling and was granted an emergency stay by an appellate court judge. Yes, this is what constitutes an emergency in this state. Texas may have just saved some low-income woman from getting her annual breast cancer screening. She can thank Abbott later.
Earlier this year the Obama administration decided to halt federal funding of the Women’s Health Program because Texas had violated federal rules in banning Planned Parenthood. Realizing the magnitude of the issue, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey urged Governor Perry to work with the administration so Texas would not lose much-needed funds. Naturally Perry chose to ignore her advice.
For their part, Republican members of the Texas congressional delegation wrote a strongly worded letter accusing the president of “supporting a pro-abortion agenda.” (Never mind the fact that federal funding cannot be used to fund abortion services.) This wasn’t a surprising move considering they were all supporters of last year’s amendment—cosponsored by Congressman Ted Poe—to defund Planned Parenthood completely.
It’s not often that one of the Texas senators makes the House members look sane. But this time, in an interview with the Texas Tribune, Senator John Cornyn decided to align himself with the patently false comments of Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona regarding family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood. Kyl had claimed that “well over” 90 percent of its services were abortion-related, a statement he has since disavowed as “not intended to be factual.” Cornyn, however, still has questions, saying that he’d heard that 98 percent of services provided to pregnant women are abortion-related.
“I went on Planned Parenthood’s website…to see if I could get some good information,” Cornyn said in the interview. “I came up empty.”
Cornyn couldn’t have looked too hard, so I’ll make it easy for him. Go to plannedparenthood.org. Click on About Us. Click on Annual Report. Select 2009-2010. Open document. Scroll to page five. View colorful pie chart. “Abortion services: 3%.” Takes approximately three minutes. You’re welcome.