Travis County District Judge Stephen Yelenosky on Friday refused to grant Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary injunction to be included in the Texas Women’s Health Program.
“Probable injury is not really sufficient,” said Yelenosky, who ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood at a hearing in December, “… because it is unlikely that the plaintiffs will succeed at trial, I will deny the temporary injunction.”
Although Yelenosky agreed with Planned Parenthood’s arguments that the organization’s exclusion from the Texas WHP could endanger access to health services, his ruling indicated he did not believe their legal arguments would be successful at trial. Yelenosky also cited a “poison pill” rule that would cause the Texas WHP to self-destruct if a court overturned the Affiliate Ban Rule in the reasoning for his ruling.
“This allows us to continue to provide important family planning and preventive care to low-income women and fully enforce state law,” Dr. Kyle Janek, the state’s executive commissioner of health and human services, said in a statement on the ruling. “We’ve got the Texas Women’s Health Program up and running, and we’ll continue to provide help to any woman who needs to find a new doctor or clinic.”
Pete Schenkkan, a lawyer representing Planned Parenthood, said the organization is “confident in the merits of our case,” and will still consider taking the case to trial.
See here and here for the background. It’s not looking too good for Planned Parenthood at this point, though of course it’s the women who depend on their services that are the real losers. I suppose they could still win at trial, but as I said before it’s ultimately at the ballot box where the fight really matters.
As for the state’s claims that everything is peachy keen with their replacement WHP, Rep. Lon Burnam joined his colleague Rep. Donna Howard in checking with the providers that are listed on the Texas WHP website. You will I’m sure be shocked to hear that most of the providers listed are not in fact participating in the program. See his release beneath the fold and his much more accurate list of providers in Tarrant County here.
On top of this, the Better Texas blog reminds us that the problems run deeper than just the WHP:
Over the last year much attention has been paid to the fate of the 130,000 women in WHP, and especially the 40,000+ who choose Planned Parenthood as their provider. While this is certainly worthy of attention (and even outrage), comparatively little attention has been paid to the DSHS family planning cuts that took effect in 2011 and have already resulted in 147,000 women losing access and 53 safety net family planning clinics closing.
It seems the media followed WHP more closely, because of the attention-grabbing dispute between Texas and the federal government, and lawsuits between the state and Planned Parenthood. By comparison the 2011 Legislature’s votes to cut DSHS family planning by two-thirds ($73 million over the biennium) provided less drama, even though they’ve harmed more women and slashed or eliminated funding from more safety net providers. And the DSHS cuts didn’t just hurt that program. Clinics that closed in the wake of the DSHS cuts also provided care in WHP and had staff on site that helped women through the WHP enrollment process. Since the DSHS cuts took effect, client enrollment in WHP has declined.
On the bright side, the Lege is reconsidering that decision to slash family planning funds since someone explained to them that less birth control means more babies. So they have going for them.
State Representative Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) today issued a report showing that of the 104 providers in Fort Worth listed by the Health and Human Services Commission as participating in the Texas Women’s Healthcare Program (TWHP), only 11 are accepting TWHP patients and of those, 3 only provide limited services. After calling each of the 104 providers, Rep. Burnam’s office today began releasing a list of actual TWHP providers in Fort Worth as well as the local Planned Parenthood clinics still providing women’s health services.
“The state government has shown that women cannot rely on it for accurate information on healthcare providers in the Texas Women’s Healthcare Program in Fort Worth, so that task has unfortunately fallen to me. Please contact my office for a reliable list of women’s healthcare providers, both those in the state program and through Planned Parenthood.”
The report follows assurances on Monday by HHSC that more than enough providers are participating in the program to replace the Planned Parenthood clinics booted out of the program by the state for their affiliation with the organization, despite the fact that no state funds were in any way used for abortions. The state also lost the $9-to-$1 federal funding match, placing the $40 million cost squarely on Texas taxpayers. The latest hearing in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit to rejoin the program was held today, with provider access being a key point of contention.
“It is tempting to ascribe political motives to the Perry administration in releasing this 85-percent-inaccurate list,” said Rep. Burnam, “but for charity’s sake we’ll just have to assume that their contractor was grossly incompetent.”
The statistics for the full list, available upon request from Rep. Burnam’s office were:
· 104 total providers in Fort Worth listed at TexasWomensHealth.org
o 19 (18%): specialists not providing services covered by TWHP
o 35 (34%): providers not participating in the TWHP
o 35 (34%): unanswered, disconnected or wrong phone numbers
o 8 (8%): TWHP general care providers accepting new patients
o 3 (3%): TWHP providers offering only limited services
o 4 (4%): TWHP providers not accepting new patients