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.

Rick Perry Uses Joan Rivers’ Death To Defend Texas Abortion Laws

AUSTIN, TX – While speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival, Rick Perry defended harmful restrictions on access to abortion by referencing Joan Rivers’ death. 

Statement from Tanene Allison, Communications Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes:

“The best way Rick Perry can defend harmful abortion regulations that have caused clinics to close throughout Texas is to reference Joan Rivers’ death. This attempt at distraction shows how ridiculous Perry’s supposed logic is when it comes to women’s health.

 

The late Joan Rivers cannot respond to Perry’s attempt to use her death to promote harmful laws that hurt Texas women. But a prior quote from Rivers makes clear what she thought about Perry and other elected officials who attack women’s health care. “I think that anybody who doesn’t believe in Planned Parenthood is a moron.” – Joan Rivers

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Abbott Strategist Calls Rape and Incest A “Minor Issue” Continues A Republican Pattern of Making Light of Rape and Insulting Survivors

AUSTIN, TX – Yesterday, Abbott strategist Matt Mackowiak appeared on Lone Star Politics and dismissed the experiences of survivors of rape and incest, saying that their constitutionally protected right to access safe and legal abortion was a “minor issue.” Upon insulting Texas survivors by saying their experiences don’t matter, he then added that Greg Abbott would “love to fight the campaign on that issue alone.” Greg Abbott believes that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape or incest.

This latest insult continues a pattern where political candidates and operatives make light of the issue of rape during election cycles. Despite that particular pattern proving fatal to several previous campaigns, the Abbott campaign has not learned that minimizing the pain of survivors of rape is offensive and alarming to all voters.

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

“Making light of the experiences of survivors of rape and incest for political gain is downright disgusting. That Abbott’s strategist argues that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape or incest, because he thinks rape and incest are “minor issues” is demeaning and offensive.

No survivor of rape or incest would call their experience a “minor issue.” This is exactly why politicians should not be allowed to dictate their personal opinions upon women’s decisions and lives. And this is why Greg Abbott’s campaign and policies present a serious threat to the safety of Texas women.”

Planned Parenthood Texas Votes on Gubernatorial Debate: Calls Greg Abbott Out for Continued Record of Working Against Texas Women

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TX — Planned Parenthood Texas Votes released the following statement on the first debate between women’s health champion Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott, who has been a leading opponent of access to affordable birth control, safe and legal abortion and live-saving, preventive health care access for Texas women.  Outside the debate, supporters of women’s health are wearing bright pink #WomenWinTX t-shirts and holding signs.

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

“Tonight, we saw the stark contrast between the two candidates when it comes to their views on women.  Wendy Davis strongly stated her support for a woman and her family to have access to the health care they need. And she openly called out Greg Abbott for not protecting Texas women. Meanwhile, Abbott continued to defend his dangerous record that would send women back decades. It remains clear: Greg Abbott doesn’t trust women to make our own health care decisions – and we can’t trust him to be our next Governor.

“Texans want leaders who will expand access to health care for Texas women, not continue to dismantle the little that remains. That’s what our supporters and volunteers are hearing at the doors and on the phones and why we’re seeing a growing number of women reject Greg Abbott’s attempt to dictate his personal views upon Texas women. Texas women are watching, and we will vote to stop Greg Abbott this November.”

Planned Parenthood Texas Votes PAC has launched a robust voter education program in key Texas communities. Our field program will talk to over 400,000 voters – through door knocks, phone calls and mail – to educate about what’s at stake for women’s health on November 4th. This venture is a multi-million dollar investment in the future of Texas.

BACKGROUND

Greg Abbott: just another insider who wants to impose his views and judge what’s best for all women.

Greg Abbott wants to make abortion illegal, even in the case of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the woman.  Abbott supports overturning the Roe v. Wade decision. In 2013, he reiterated his beliefs: “If you really are pro-life, you are thinking about the life of the child,” he said. “And once you start putting exceptions into that, you’re saying that there are certain children who really are not worthy of life.”   [Houston Chronicle, 2/26/06; Austin American Statesman, 1/26/13]

Greg Abbott blocked access to affordable health care for Texas women and families.  As attorney general, Greg Abbott has supported efforts to block access to affordable health care for tens of thousands of Texas women and stripped Planned Parenthood health centers of funds to provide lifesaving cancer screenings and care. In response to criticism of the state’s attempt to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s participation in the Texas Women’s Health Program, a team of attorneys led by Abbott compared Planned Parenthood to a terrorist organization. While rolling back health care access for thousands of Texas women in need, Greg Abbott helped implement increased funding for so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), anti-women’s health organizations that are known for providing biased and medically inaccurate information to women seeking information about birth control and abortion.

Greg Abbott believes bosses should control whether women get birth control.  Abbott used taxpayer money to file a Supreme Court amicus brief and spoke out in support of Hobby Lobby, the for-profit arts and crafts chain that is now able to deny its employees access to insurance coverage for birth control thanks to the Supreme Court and Abbott. Women already have saved $483 million in the last year alone from the birth control benefit. Studies also show that women who receive birth control with no copay or at a reduced cost are able to avoid more than two million unplanned pregnancies each year, which also reduces the need for abortion.

Greg Abbott blocked rape victims from suing those who negligently hire their rapists.  As a judge, Greg Abbott repeatedly ruled to stop rape victims from suing those who negligently hire their rapists. An analysis by the Dallas Morning News in 2002 found that Abbott ruled in four of five cases that victims could not sue to recover damages in suits that accused churches and companies of negligently hiring sexual predators or allowing their property to become invitations for rapists.   In 1998, Abbott dissented from a Texas Supreme Court majority decision allowing a rape victim to sue a company after being raped by an employee on the job.

Greg Abbott opposes equal pay for equal work.  Abbott would not sign a measure to make it easier for women to bring pay discrimination lawsuits in state court. Emphasizing just how out of touch his campaign is with Texas women, two of his surrogates stumbled in television interviews, saying women don’t push for equal pay because they are “extremely busy” and insisting that the reason women are paid less is that “men are better negotiators.”  In Abbott’s own attorney general’s office, women are paid about $6,000 less than men for the same work, while only three out of the top 20 highest-paid employees at the agency are women.  While folks like Greg Abbott are giving themselves raises, women are struggling. According to the Shriver Report, one-third of all American women are living at “the brink of poverty,” meaning that they earn less than $47,000 per year for a family of four. “Forty-two million women, and the 28 million children who depend on them, are living one single incident—a doctor’s bill, a late paycheck, or a broken-down car—away from economic ruin,” the report reveals. To succeed in the workplace and in life, women need a fair chance to make what they earned, deserve and they need.

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Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Announces 2014 Endorsements

Planned Parenthood Texas Votes is proud to announce our state endorsements for the 2014 election.

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

“This election could not be more important for Texas women. On one side, we have candidates who have created a historic health care disaster for women, the worst in the country, on their quest to impose their beliefs on all Texans. On the other, we have candidates who are indeed champions for Texas families, who understand that the women of Texas need access to crucial health care and should be trusted to make their own personal medical decisions in consultation with their doctor, their families and their God.

Between now and election day, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes will work around the clock to make sure that voters know where the candidates stand on women’s health. The women of Texas trust Planned Parenthood, and we will run a statewide field program and communicate with voters in every way possible to be sure they know what is at stake in this election.

You can’t win in Texas by working against Texas women. The women of Texas – and those who care about them – are watching. They are fighting back. And they will vote.”

Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Endorsed Candidates:

Non-incumbent Endorsements:

Governor, Wendy Davis
Lt. Governor, Leticia Van de Putte

State Senate Districts
SD 10 Libby Willis

State House Districts
HD 23 Susan Criss
HD 43 Kim Gonzalez
HD 105 Susan Motley
HD 107 Carol Donovan
HD 108 Leigh Bailey

Incumbent Endorsements (races with a challenger in the 2014 general election):

State Senate
SD 14 Kirk Watson
SD 15 John Whitmire

State House
HD 46 Dawnna Dukes
HD 48 Donna Howard
HD 49 Elliott Naishtat
HD 50 Celia Israel
HD 51 Eddie Rodriguez
HD 95 Nicole Collier
HD 100 Eric Johnson
HD 101 Chris Turner
HD 117 Phil Cortez
HD 120 Ruth Jones McClendon
HD 123 Mike Villarreal
HD 125 Justin Rodriguez
HD 134 Sarah Davis
HD 137 Gene Wu
HD 144 Mary Ann Perez
HD 148 Jessica Farrar
HD 149 Hubert Vo

Additional endorsements will be voted on by the Planned Parenthood Texas Votes board of directors in late August.