Federal Judge Temporarily Stops Texas from Cutting Planned Parenthood Out of Medicaid

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJanuary 20, 2017 7:28 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A federal judge is stopping the State of Texas from cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood – at least for now. The funding was supposed to end tomorrow. But U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ordered the funding to continue until Feb. 21, and he’ll issue a decision by then.

Sarah Wheat with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas says the reprieve is good news for women in the state.

“Every time one of the women’s health programs in Texas is cut or dismantled, we see that women lose access to basic health care and screenings, and unfortunately Texas ranks very high on a lot of negative public health indicators,” she says. 

Texas moved to end funding to the organization after a secretly-recorded video showed a Planned Parenthood employee discussing fetal tissue donation procedures.

A new study shows the number of abortions in Texas is down. A 2013 Texas law forced clinics across the state to close down in all but the biggest cities. The research – published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – says the farther a woman lives from one of the remaining clinics, the steeper the decline. Houston Public Media’s Ed Mayberry has more:

 This might seem obvious — fewer clinics lead to fewer abortions. Official statistics show they decreased 15 percent after new regulations took effect in Texas. Daniel Grossman is an investigator with the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. 

 “And what we found was that there was quite a clear relationship between increasing distance to the nearest clinic and the decline in abortions. If that change in distance to a nearest clinic was a hundred miles or more, there was a 50 percent decline in the number of abortions in those counties.” 

 Grossman doesn’t think the decline is related to improvements in access to contraception.

 “If anything, you know, access to contraception in the state has really been constrained since 2011 when the legislature cut the funding for family planning services by two-thirds. That funding was eventually replaced by the legislature in 2013 and women are still finding barriers accessing contraception.” 

 The U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the Texas law requiring hospital admitting privileges and requiring clinics to meet ambulatory surgical standards, saying those restrictions didn’t have health benefits. But none of the more than 20 clinics that closed have reopened.

Hindsight is 20/20 for former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

At his confirmation hearing for U.S. Secretary of Energy yesterday he told the Senate Committee he doesn’t think the department should be eliminated anymore. Something he stated while running for president 5 years ago.

“In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination,” Perry said. 

Perry also expressed a change of heart on climate change – saying he now thinks it’s due in part to manmade activity.