BREAKING: Supreme Court Announces Review of Texas Abortion Restrictions

Austin, TX — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will review a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding restrictions that threaten to further devastate access to safe, legal abortion in Texas. If the Supreme Court does not reverse the lower court’s ruling, it would leave the 5.4 million women of reproductive age in Texas with only 10 health centers that provide safe, legal abortion in the entire state—down from approximately 40 health centers before passage of this dangerous law. The case is Whole Women’s Health, et al. v. Cole, et al. and the plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Within hours of the Texas restrictions taking effect last October 2014 and before the Supreme Court stepped in to temporarily block the restrictions, Planned Parenthood witnessed the catastrophic impact to women across the state — with health centers inundated with calls from frightened and upset patients, and women lined up outside health center doors, waiting to see if they could still access the care they needed at the Planned Parenthood health centers that remained open. In Houston, Planned Parenthoodreported that its call volume from patients seeking abortion services increased 170 percent when the law was in effect. Planned Parenthood in Austin received seven times as many calls about abortion services, as compared to typical averages. Across Central and North Texas, Planned Parenthood saw a daily average of four times as many calls from women seeking abortions. Many of these calls were from women living far outside the affiliates’ service regions, in cities such as Midland and McAllen, where providers had closed. Doris Dixon, a call center director for Planned Parenthood in Houston, shared a heartbreaking account of a woman who traveled from out of state and stayed in Houston overnight, only to find that she couldn’t obtain a procedure, writing: “I don’t know what will happen to her. I don’t know that I will ever stop thinking about her. And she is just one woman whose life has been turned upside down by this law.”

Statement from Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes:

“We have seen the devastating consequences for women firsthand when this law went into effect last October — with patients lined up outside Planned Parenthood health centers and women frantically calling to get the care they need. If the Court upholds this clinic shutdown law, it could create a world where even though abortion is legal, it is completely out of reach for many women. A woman’s right to make personal medical decisions about abortion shouldn’t depend on where she lives. Make no mistake—this is part of a broader agenda to ban safe, legal abortion completely. In fact, the author of this very law has said she is ‘proud that Texas always takes the lead in trying to turn back what started with Roe v. Wade.’ This is not what Texans want–which is why thousands turned out to protest this dangerous law when it was jammed through the legislature.”

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“If the court allows this clinic shutdown law to stand, it would essentially take many women back to a time before abortion was legal. Texas paints a devastating picture of what’s at stake for women across the country — where women are already traveling hundreds of miles, crossing state lines, and waiting weeks to get an abortion, if they can at all. A woman’s very right to make personal medical decisions about abortion is now before the court. These clinic shutdown laws are a clear attempt to end women’s access to safe and legal abortion, and this is not what the public wants. When this law passed, it sparked historic protests in Texas and across the country. For more than 40 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that the Constitution protects every woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions about abortion — and Americans support that right.”

These restrictions have already shut down health centers across Texas, and women are already struggling to access safe, legal abortion. In fact, new research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) found that some women are waiting as long as 20 days to access abortion in Texas. If the Supreme Court does not reverse the appellate ruling, the situation could get even worse. Researchers estimate that the number of women seeking abortions at the remaining 10 health centers would increase dramatically beyond existing capacity, forcing longer delays that would nearly double the percentage of abortions in the second trimester. While abortion is an extremely safe procedure, it’s safest the earliest it’s provided.

Polls consistently show that the majority of Americans support access to safe and legal abortion. A recent Bloomberg Politics national poll found that 67% of Americans surveyed said the Supreme Court was right to rule that women have a constitutional right to abortion and agree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. A VOX/Perry Undem poll found that more Americans now consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life. Sixty-eight percent of Millennials don’t want to see Roe overturned, and 72 percent of Republicans think abortion should be available.

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Planned Parenthood Texas Votes (PPTV) is the nonpartisan policy, advocacy and political arm of
Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas.

Statement from Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes

Statement from Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes:

“Governor Abbott’s political grandstanding is on full display this morning.  Representatives from the Texas Office of Inspector General showed up at Planned Parenthood health centers in Brownsville, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio looking for an excuse to take health care away from thousands of women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive care — but what they will see is professional, compassionate and quality health care.  Despite their efforts to distort the truth, health care — no matter what — is what happens at Planned Parenthood.”

BACKGROUND
In another calculated move that clearly shows their political motivations, an Austin reporter showed up with OIG at the San Antonio health center. On Monday, it was reporters and not the OIG that notified Planned Parenthood affiliates of the state’s plans to terminate Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract.
It is widely reported that Governor Abbott wants to make safe abortion illegal and end Texas women’s access to preventive health care at Planned Parenthood. Already, tens of thousands of women have been cut off from their trusted provider and access to preventive health care, but that’s not enough for Governor Abbott. He’s willing to play politics with women’s health and lives until he gets his way.

Texas Politicians Take Aim at Women’s Access to Care at Planned Parenthood Again

Texas Politicians Take Aim at Women’s Access to Care at Planned Parenthood Again
Tens of thousands of women already going without care due to past attacks

Washington, DC – The state of Texas announced plans to end contracts for Planned Parenthood affiliates to provide birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests and preventive care through Medicaid. Each year, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas care for thousands of patients through Medicaid. This comes hours after a federal court temporarily blocked a similar action taken by Louisiana officials. The courts and the Center for Medicaid, CHIP and Survey & Certification (CMCS) have been clear that federal law prohibits states from interfering with Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to the qualified provider of their choice. To date, two federal Courts of Appeals, the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, have agreed, blocking laws excluding abortion providers from Medicaid enacted in Indiana and Arizona, and the Supreme Court declined to review both of those rulings. CMCS clearly stated in an informational memo dated June 2011: “States are not, however, permitted to exclude providers from the program solely on the basis of the range of medical services they provide.”

Statement from Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes:

“Once again politicians in Austin are showing how little they care about Texan’s health care. They’re launching yet another attack on low-income Texans’ access to preventive health care by announcing they intend to cut Planned Parenthood affiliates’ Medicaid contract. Already tens of thousands of women have lost their access to health care after years of deep cuts to family planning programs that provide access to lifesaving cancer screenings, HIV tests and well woman exams. Now their using thoroughly discredited, bogus attacks against Planned Parenthood as a shameful excuse to target Texas women’s health yet again. Planned Parenthood will continue to fight for access to health care and information for all Texans.”

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“What’s happening today in Texas should be a national scandal. It is completely outrageous that Texas officials are using thoroughly discredited, fraudulent videos to cut women off from preventive health care, including cancer screenings, HIV testing, and birth control. This smear campaign has been completely discredited because the claims are completely false. In every state where this fraudulent smear campaign has been invoked, Planned Parenthood has fought for its patients to continue getting the high-quality, compassionate health care we provide, and in every state we’ve won. We will fight back against this outrageous, malicious, political attack in Texas with everything we’ve got, and we will protect women’s access to the health care they need and deserve.”

Years of hostile policies have already left tens of thousands of Texas women without access to cancer screenings, birth control, HIV tests and other preventive care. A series of recent studies detail the real-world impact of devastating budget cuts and funding schemes that blocked care at Planned Parenthood health centers:

  • One report showed that 55 percent of Texas women reported at least one barrier to accessing reproductive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings or family planning services. Nearly 40 percent of women reported two or more barriers. Read more HERE from Texas Policy Evaluation Project.
  • A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the state’s family planning program served 54 percent fewer patients as a result of the 2011 budget cuts and tiered funding scheme. The researchers went on to write: “The tiered funding system placed organizations that had the greatest amount of experience providing these methods at a disadvantage and instead favored those that did not offer these methods as widely to their clients.”
  • In January, the State of Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued a grim report revealing that 30,000 fewer women received health care through the Texas Women’s Health Program (WHP) in 2013 than in 2011, following the state’s takeover of the program in order to ban Planned Parenthood. The Dallas Morning News reported that “the areas with the highest drops in the number of women served by the WHP occurred in areas where Planned Parenthood clinics shuttered.”
  • The Brownsville Herald, October 29, 2011: “[Brownsville Community Health Center] executive director Paula Gómez said she is concerned more women will lose out on vital care now that the Southmost clinic is gone and state funding has been cut. ‘Planned Parenthood, in those cases, was the only form of healthcare for a majority of these ladies,’ she said. ‘We’ve always had a good working relationship with Planned Parenthood and I think we’ve always worked hand in hand trying to do as comprehensive care as we can given our financial situation and our staffing situations.”
  • Huffington Post, May 11, 2011: “Those familiar with the mechanics of the [Women’s Health Program], however, question the feasibility of other health centers picking up the 42,000 women who would no longer be treated by Planned Parenthood. ‘The coverage will continue, but that may not mean much if you look at the overall picture,’ said Jose E. Camacho, Executive Director of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers. ‘Health centers’ funding is being leveled, so we can’t say in good conscience that [Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)] have the capacity to take these women in.’ FQHCs are serving one million people, 230,000 of childbearing age. The future of health care for close to a quarter million clients is also hazy, Camacho says, considering the House’s recent cuts to Title XX, V, and X programs. To add 40,000-plus former Planned Parenthood patients would be a 20 percent increase and ‘just can’t be done over a night or two without funding.’”
  • Austin Chronicle, April 22, 2011: “Put simply, says Randall Ellis, senior director of government relations for the well-respected Houston FQHC Legacy Community Health Services, it takes the entire spectrum of providers, including Planned Parenthood, to meet the needs of the growing population of low-income people without access to reproductive and other basic health care services. ‘We work in conjunction with Planned Parenthood for family-planning and HIV services. We do referrals back and forth, so that people can receive services in the setting that they’re most comfortable in,’ he said. ‘These family-planning providers, providers that specialize in family-planning services, provide these services in a much more cost-effective manner than do the other [providers] without the know-how – much more [cost-effectively] than Legacy or the other FQHCs … that don’t have the background’ or expertise in providing reproductive health care.”
  • Read more about the state of Texas women’s health from the Guttmacher Institute.