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Planned Parenthood Closes Texas Center After De-Funding

Steven Ertelt | LifeNews.com:

Thanks for the state of Texas deciding to revoke approximately $16 million in taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business, the Odessa office of Planned Parenthood will be closing March 9.

While abortions are not done at that office, it make abortion referrals for women to other Planned Parenthood of West Texas locations that do. The head of the Planned Parenthood affiliate admitted it has 2,000 abortion customers in its network in 2011.

In an interview with the local newspaper, CEO Karen Pieper Hildebrand of Planned Parenthood of West Texas blamed the state’s decision to prevent the state family planning program from contracting with abortion businesses for the decision to close the busiest office it runs in western Texas.

“There was never any indication it was going to end any other way,” Hildebrand said of the state renewing the program. “It was pretty clear this was the direction it was going.”

But Allison Castle, a spokeswoman with Governor Rick Perry’s office, defended the pro-life decision to not send tax dollar to the number one abortion business in the nation.

“Texas law prevents tax payer dollars from going to abortion clinic providers,” Castle said. “Under Medicaid, it states who qualified providers are. This isn’t a debate on a specific provider; it’s a debate on rule of law.”

Last week, the state of Texas defied attacks form the Obama administration in the form of threats to revoke federal funding if the state cuts of its funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and state lawmakers directed the Texas Health and Human Services commissioner to sign a rule yesterday that officially bans Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses from participating in the Texas’ Women’s Health Program.

In December, the Obama Administration refused to renew funding for Texas’ Women’s Health Program (WHP) because of new state rules that disqualify abortion business affiliates from participation in the program. The WHP encompasses Medicaid family planning services for low income women. The program started through authorizing legislation in 2005 and was renewed in the recent 82nd Legislative Session with new pro-life rules.

Planned Parenthood—the number one abortion business in Texas—circulated a letter in the Capitol, confirming that they provide over 40% of the services in the entire WHP and legislators responding by yanking taxpayer funds to ensure Texas residents were not funding an abortion business. Governor Rick Perry signed the de-funding law to the delight of pro-life advocates.

The Texas Tribune indicates the new rule Commissioner Tom Suehs signed on Thursday making the de-funding official takes effect March 14.

“Under federal law, states administer Medicaid and have the right to set the criteria for providers in the program. That is what Texas is doing,” said Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the agency. “We have a state law that our Attorney General says is constitutional, and it clearly bans abortion providers from taking part in the Women’s Health Program. We can’t violate a perfectly valid state law just to appease Washington. We hope CMS will reverse its position and allow the program to continue.”

Because the Obama administration has threatened the state with cutting off federal funding, Texas officials have no choice but to end the program by the end of March. Instead of blaming Obama officials, Planned Parenthood faults Texas for protecting taxpayers.

“No one’s politics should interfere with a woman’s access to health care,” said Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast President and CEO Peter J. Durkin. “It is shameful that Governor Perry and Commissioner Suehs continue to politicize lifesaving breast cancer screenings and birth control access for low-income women.”

On the other hand, pro-life advocates credit Texas legislators and officials for ensuring money is not flowing to an abortion business.

“The Legislature has spoken. The attorney general has said it is constitutional. The Commissioner has signed the rule,” said Kyleen Wright, president of the Texas for Life Coalition. “If Planned Parenthood cared as much about affordable health care for women as they say, they would get out of the way so that the program could continue.” ... continues...

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