Texas is slowly phasing out subsidies to clinics meant to provide low- or no-cost contraceptives and reproductive health care, determined to not allow a cent to go to any Planned Parenthood affiliate or any other organization that is associated — no matter how distantly — with a provider of safe abortion services. But in the battle over who should or shouldn’t be funded with the state’s Women’s Health Program funding, one issue has evolved into two separate lawsuits.
According to the Associated Press, the first suit involves the state saying that the government has no right to decide which entities the state chooses to support with federal Medicaid dollars. The second has Planned Parenthood contending that the state has no right to decide which entities the state funds with federal Medicaid dollars.
Texas appears to be saying it’s an “Our way or the highway” proposition — denying federal Medicaid dollars to any recipient that either provides, is associated with, or advocates for safe abortion services must be eliminated or lawmakers won’t allow the program to exist at all.
[Texas Attorney General Greg] Abbott said the law was needed to gain support from lawmakers who did not want to fund a program that provided taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood or any groups that provide elective abortions.
“Without this statutory restriction on abortion subsidies, the Women’s Health Program would not exist because the Texas Legislature would not have authorized its creation,” Abbott writes.
So is the federal government undermining the state government’s right to legislate? Or, is the federal government right in saying “if you want our money, you must use it as we say?” Wanting to have all of the federal dollars but with none of the strings seems an awful lot like having your cake and eating it, too.
The Associated Press writes that the first decisions — whether or not to place the law de-funding Planned Parenthood under injunction — will happen on April 30th, and will provide a much needed preview of how strong the state’s case is when it comes to reallocating Medicaid funds.