As a tumultuous year in women’s health draws to a close, Planned Parenthood is turning up the heat on Texas, today filing a new lawsuit that challenge the state’s move to ban the nonprofit from participation in a state-run and funded Texas Women’s Health Program.
While previous lawsuits have focused on the state’s move to ban Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid-waiver Women’s Health Program, the suit filed this week focuses on the state’s efforts to ban the provider from a proposed state-run Texas WHP – meant to replace the successful and federally-funded program that the state has voluntarily sought to end solely to exclude Planned Parenthood from participation.
[Tuesday] in state court Marcela “Marcy” Balquinta joined Planned Parenthood family-planning providers from across the state to sue Texas in Travis County district court, arguing that she will effectively be left without access to health care if the state goes through with excluding Planned Parenthood from providing women’s health care in the revamped TWHP. “Without the affordable care I receive through Planned Parenthood and WHP, I would have to make tough decisions between paying for my cancer screenings and birth control, or buying groceries or gas for my car,” Balquinta said in a statement. “If I couldn’t go to Planned Parenthood, I don’t know where I’d turn. And there are tens of thousands of Texas women like me.”
Indeed, Balquinta lives in the Valley, one of the areas of the state that will be hardest hit if state officials make good on a promise to ban Planned Parenthood from participation in the new TWHP. Balquinta, a 26-year-old graduate student at University of Texas–Pan American who works part-time teaching students about preventing sexual violence, will continue to try to pay for services at Planned Parenthood, because that is her “trusted provider where she feels comfortable seeking reproductive health services,” though “because of her limited means, she believes it would be highly unlikely that she could pay for the same range of services that has been covered by WHP and would be covered by TWHP,” reads the lawsuit.
See Trail Blazers and POstcards for more on this story, and here and here for more on the other state lawsuit, which is on hold as Texas appeals the temporary injunction that halts it from keeping Planned Parenthood out of its replacement Women’s Health Program. As this story notes, it is far from clear that the state really has a functioning replacement program ready to go when the federal funds are scheduled to cease, given its inability to meet its own deadline in rolling it out. A hearing on this new suit will happen sometime before the end of the year. A statement from Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast about this is here.