Feds to Texas: You defunded Planned Parenthood, now we're defunding you

When the Texas state administration first considered a rule to ban Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from participating in the Texas’ Women’s Health Program, which is jointly funded by the state of Texas and the federal government, the Obama administration retaliated by threatening to cut funding to the program entirely. Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Thomas Suehs signed the rule anyway — and the ball was back in the Obama administration’s court. I wrote at the time:

Does Obama want to actually cut funding and potentially jeopardize the Texas Women’s Health program, which might not be able to survive without federal funding? That sends the message that Obama cares less that women have access to health care than that they receive health care from certain providers — namely, providers that also offer abortions.

Either Rick Perry just called Obama’s bluff or this is about to be an interesting issue. Planned Parenthood has already retorted with its typical demagoguery: “No one’s politics should interfere with a woman’s access to health care,” Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast President and CEO Peter J. Durkin said in a statement. “It is shameful that Governor Perry and Commissioner Suehs continue to politicize lifesaving breast cancer screenings and birth control access for low-income women.”

Would Planned Parenthood stand by that statement as it applies to President Obama, too? Surely other providers in the Texas Women’s Health Exchange provide breast cancer screenings and birth control access. Eliminating abortion providers from the exchange doesn’t jeopardize women’s health access — but eliminating the exchange altogether would.

The answer to my original question is: Yes, the Obama administration actually does want to cut funding and jeopardize the Texas’ Women’s Health Program entirely. He cares more to protect Planned Parenthood than he does to protect women’s health, in general. Fortunately for low-income women in Texas, Rick Perry won’t stand for it. Via Guy Benson:

Perry, who slammed the federal government constantly during his short-lived bid for the Republican presidential nomination, has directed state health officials to find the funding to keep the program going from other parts of the budget, but he has promised not to raise revenues to cover the costs.

Incidentally, this is one of the things I most respect about Rick Perry: He is willing to forgo federal funds, recognizing that federal dollars always come with strings attached. He rejected Race to the Top funds, for example, and now he’s saying “no” to federal control of another state-level program. The business-friendly atmosphere he created in Texas has ensured a thriving economy there, such that Texas doesn’t have need of federal funds, either. No wonder so many Californians have migrated there.

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