The state of Texas has one goal, kicking Planned Parenthood out of the Lone Star State, which would cause the loss reproductive care for thousands of women.
"They don't want Planned Parenthood to exist," says Jeffrey Hons, CEO of Planned Parenthood South Texas.
In the last 30 days, Governor Greg Abbott threatened to cut off Medicaid payments
to Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas and delivered subpoenas to clinics in Texas
, seeking an extensive amount of information, including home addresses for staffers and family members — a point the state has since relented on, Hons said.
"The state would like people to believe that whole story is completely separate [from the Medicaid threat] but the timing raises great suspicion," Hons said, adding that Planned Parenthood lawyers pushed back against the subpoenas and the state reduced the scope of its requests. "But this starts leaving more and more fingerprints. This is politically motivated. It's not legit."
Yesterday, Planned Parenthood affiliates filed suit against Texas
Aside from the threat, Hons said Abbott's given the impression that Medicaid payments are already cut off, but he said that's not the case.
"This does not mean a woman can't keep coming here right now ... women covered by Medicaid can still come in and are covered," Hons said, adding that even today, women covered by Medicaid used Planned Parenthood South Texas' services. "No woman out there should think 'I can't go to Planned Parenthood.'"
The federal lawsuit names 10 patient plaintiffs — Jane Doe #1 through #10 — who are covered by Medicaid. The lawsuit also notes that Texas Medicaid doesn't pay for abortions, except in extremely narrow circumstances. Instead, it pays for services like STD testing, cancer screenings and birth control.
The Office of Inspector General of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission notified Planned Parenthood South Texas that it was cutting of the funding through what's called Notices of Termination. Funding would be cut off 15 days after the state provides "forthcoming" Final Notices of Termination.
Through the Notices of Termination, the state alleges that Houston-based Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. had a policy to procure fetal tissue even if it meant altering the timing or method of an abortion; that it failed to comply with policies for the safe handling of bodily tissue and fluid by allowing people posing as commercial buyers to handle bloody fetal tissue while only wearing gloves; didn't train staff on those precautions; and billed Medicaid for unnecessary services or services that did not occur.
"Each of these allegations is false," the lawsuit states, later explaining how the allegations are based on doctored videos published by a radical anti-abortion group.
Not only that, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas don't participate in the fetal tissue donation program, which contributes to vaccination research
The state and Planned Parenthood are scheduled to meet December 14 at 9:30 a.m., Hons said.
"We are requesting that the court issue some kind of temporary relief to us that tells the state of Texas to maintain the status quo and not take any action," Hons said. "And then my hope is the court lets the merits of this case play out."