On Thursday, Texas followed through on its threat to undermine a popular health-care program that will affect more than 100,000 women statewide. In an ongoing effort to defund Planned Parenthood, the Commissioner for Health and Human Services signed a rule that will likely torpedo the Women's Health Program – a federal funding initiative that provides medical screenings and contraceptives to working-class and poor women who meet the income requirements. The new rule goes into effect March 14.
In its application last fall to renew the five-year-old WHP, the state asked the feds to let it exclude health-care providers that offer or affiliate with providers that offer abortions. Following a 5th Circuit decision over similar language in the state's Title X funding, Planned Parenthood has offered its abortion services in clinics that receive no federal funding, while continuing to provide federally supported family planning services in separate locations, successfully complying with onerous accounting and management guidelines. The new rule targets those family-planning locations.
The San Antonio Planned Parenthood affiliate operates seven clinics here and one each in Kingsville, Brownsville, and Harlingen. Three of the local clinics offer abortion services and receive no WHP funding.