Funding cutoff looms for Planned Parenthood
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On Tuesday, Texas’ Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state could cut funding to agencies affiliated with abortion—including women’s health organization Planned Parenthood.
Last legislative session, Texas lawmakers further clarified a law regarding the Women’s Health Program. State representatives banned organizations “affiliated with abortion providers” from receiving state funds.
Several Planned Parenthood clinics are suing, calling the law unconstitutional. They were granted an injunction until Tuesday when the appeals court overturned it.
Sarah Wheat, co-CEO of Austin Planned Parenthood, has been a part of this fight for years.
"What the ruling said last night is that we are going to have to continue to go to court and stand up for the women who count on our health services," Wheat said. "These are actually programs that actually save tax payer dollars because if you identify cervical cancer or breast cancer early and can help with a preventative care for that then you are avoiding more expensive health care dollars and personal tragedies later."
But those who side with the state don't see it as a social issue, but a fiscal one.
"We believe the federal government should not force funds to go there when the state has voted for them not to," Peggy Venable with Americans for Prosperity said. "When a legislature votes that funding should not go to a specific activity, the federal government should not have the opportunity to think they can override the state decision and force them to fund something that the state legislature has voted not to fund."
The Planned Parenthood clinic in East Austin has operated for decades, but not just on federal money. It depends on a balance of fundraisers and donors to stay afloat.
Wheat says regardless of what happens in court, they will find away to keep the doors open.
Gov. Rick Perry has insisted that if the state is forced to include Planned Parenthood in the Women’s Health Program, it will shut down the program altogether. Perry has said the state would find another way to pay for low-income women's health programs.
Ultimately, it'll be up to the courts to decide when the case goes to trial in October.