Planned Parenthood Can't Catch a Break
Planned Parenthood staffers might have been inclined to celebrate last Friday. That afternoon, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled Texas could not exclude Planned Parenthood from its Women's Health Program. On Monday a district judge had granted an injunction, forcing the state to pay Planned Parenthood clinics that served the WHP clients—low-income women who are not pregnant. The injunction was short-lived—the state attorney general appealed the decision to the 5th Circuit, which granted an emergency stay, allowing state health officials to start kicking out the Planned Parenthood clinics. By Friday, the 5th Circuit had reversed the decision, granting a temporary injuction while Planned Parenthood's lawsuit against the state proceeds. While long-term fates are up in the air, this news was the best the organization has heard in quite a while.
But any celebration would have been short-lived. By Friday night, the organization was already getting bad news. Texas may now have to continue funding Planned Parenthood clinics for their basic reproductive health care services, but Arizona lawmakers have now put a ban on all public funds going to the organization. Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill, called the Whole Women's Health Funding Priority Act, which ends all funding to any organization that offers abortion services. Much like Texas, no public dollars actually go to abortions—rather they go to preventing unintended pregnancies by offering basic birth control as well as screenings for cancer and other preventative care.
As those reading this blog probably know, the stakes in Texas are high; Planned Parenthood clinics serve a majority of the 130,000 women enrolled in the Women's Health Program. Without the clinics, it's not clear there's the capacity to offer services to those women. Arizona is in a similar predicament. According to the Arizona Daily Sun, the new law could disrupt healthcare services for "nearly 20,000 women served by the organization's clinics." Arizona joins six other states with similar bans, however only three of those states have actually seen the laws enacted. The other three are tangled up in court. Arizona will likely soon join that fun.
Of course, even if the courts decides in favor of Planned Parenthood, it's no guarantee of safety. In Texas, despite the legal ruling, Governor Rick Perry has promised to keep fighting the organization that provides healthcare to so many women. That probably means no Planned Parenthood celebrations for a while.
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