In March 2012, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas legislature cut Planned Parenthood off from the state’s health and human services funding, citing the group’s advocacy for abortion. The Obama administration then cut off all federal funding for the state’s Women’s Health Program, in an effort to coerce Texas back into funding Planned Parenthood. Texans don’t coerce easily, and the Texas government found its own funding and restored the program, minus money for the abortion provider.
Planned Parenthood sued to restore the funding. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with Planned Parenthood in April, putting the state’s law on hold. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed that ruling, taking the case up to the federal appeals level. On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans unanimously upheld Texas’ right to withhold taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is said to be mulling its options. The case could have major ramifications for Planned Parenthood’s state-level funding all over the United States.
Planned Parenthood has come under increased scrutiny in recent years. College Station, TX Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson quit the group in 2009, after assisting in an ultrasound-guided abortion. She says that during that procedure, she saw the infant move in reaction to pain.
“The next movement was the sudden jerk of a tiny foot as the baby started kicking, as if it were trying to move away from the probing invader,” she continues. “As the cannula pressed its side, the baby began struggling to turn and twist away. It seemed clear to me that it could feel the cannula, and it did not like what it was feeling. And then the doctor’s voice broke through, startling me.”
Johnson is part of a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood that alleges the group engages in Medicare fraud.
The lawsuit alleges that Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, now known as Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, filed at least 87,075 false, fraudulent, or ineligible claims with the Texas Women’s Health Program. As a result, Planned Parenthood wrongfully received and retained reimbursements totaling more than $5.7 million.
LiveAction has produced a number of undercover videos captured inside Planned Parenthood facilities. The videos show Planned Parenthood staffers advising child sex traffickers how to get around the law, and making false public statements about the group’s mammography services, which Planned Parenthood does not provide.
In Texas, battling Planned Parenthood has an additional political and media dimension. Cecile Richards heads Planned Parenthood. She is the daughter of Texas’ last Democratic governor, the late Ann Richards, who served from 1990 to 1994. Richards leads not only Planned Parenthood, but also leads a group called the Texas Freedom Network. That innocuous-sounding group is often quoted in the Texas media as a non-partisan watchdog, when in reality it is part of a network of groups that attack traditional religious beliefs and advocate for far-left policies well outside the mainstream in Texas. The TFN can be expected to lead the media reaction to the ongoing battle over Planned Parenthood’s funding.