Monday morning arrived with an announcement from the Texas Office of the Inspector General that will have some serious consequences for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood and its affiliates will no longer receive coverage under the state’s Medicaid program and a recent undercover video that revealed certain violations that the state simply could not overlook. Anti-abortionists have been releasing a series of videos from undercover activists that reveal aborted fetuses and their body parts may be sold by the Planned Parenthood facilities for a profit.
In order to gain access to the Planned Parenthood officials, the anti-abortionists who went undercover impersonated representatives of a tissue procurement company. They state that Planned Parenthood is and has been profiting from reimbursements after tissue donations and a video was released in August by the anti-abortionist group to support the claims. State and national level Planned Parenthood officials have been denying the claims and maintain that no laws were broken nor did they profit from any donations of fetal tissue. They argue that the videos have been heavily edited and they intend to “fight back against this outrageous, malicious, political attack in Texas with everything we’ve got” in order to continue to provide and protect women’s access to medical care.
In response to the video series, the latest of which was released in August, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has launched a program, LIFE Initiative, to combat the violations that were revealed in the video. The website for the Office of the Governor Greg Abbott mentions the LIFE Initiative program and its aim to “provide greater protections for children in the womb and prevent the sale of baby body parts.” The site also shows that the letter which the Office of Inspector General at Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued to Planned Parenthood today perfectly aligns with the governors proposal. The letter advised that Medicaid would no longer provide any coverage for persons seeking services at any Planned Parenthood facility due to violations of the Medicaid program and in addition, it also actively seeks for all funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers be eliminated completely, both at the State and local levels.
In Louisiana, governor Bobby Jindal attempted to have state funding to Planned Parenthood blocked in wake of the videos, but Planned Parenthood fought against the move. The lawsuit argued that the state could not stop all funding to the facilities, especially for non-abortion services such as cancer screenings and gynecological exams. On Monday, the state was ordered to continue Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood clinics for 14 more days by a federal judge and Texas may be headed for a similar battle in the wake of this new announcement.
Yahoo News reported that the letter from the Inspector General outlines that the alleged Medicaid violations from the videos indicate that Planned Parenthood and its affiliates “follow a policy of agreeing to procure fetal tissue even if it means altering the timing or method of an abortion.” Allegations that Planned Parenthood staff are not properly trained for infection control when it comes to handling fetal blood or tissue and that the conditions in the facilities are not enough to prevent the spread of infectious diseases are among those the state is using to support their fight against Planned Parenthood. The full letter can be viewed below.
The Dallas News pointed out in its coverage of the controversial Texas decision to eliminate Medicaid support, that funding for Planned Parenthood has consistently been cut by the state for the last three years now. In 2013, in addition to Planned Parenthood, all other facilities that participated in abortions were removed from Medicaid Women’s Health Program. This health program provided low income women with the chance to obtain cancer screenings, birth control and HIV and other STD tests. Except for Medicaid, the state had already cut all sources of state funding off from any Planned Parenthood facilities and now, they have removed that final source of reimbursement.
[Photo Courtesy of Win McNamee/ Getty Images]