Legislature should help reduce need for abortion
Texas has hardly been immune from bitter partisan disputes, but the current session of the Legislature has been spared one of the most divisive ones unfolding in other states — extreme attempts to outlaw abortion. That’s encouraging, but paradoxically, state officials are still trying to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood clinics across the state. If that effort succeeds, it will inevitably lead to more unplanned pregnancies — and cause more women to seek abortions that might have been avoided.
The state effort to deny Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood is currently before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The state is appealing a ruling by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks that it didn’t provide sufficient reason to cut off funding because of undercover videos produced in 2015 by anti-abortion activists.
Those videos supposedly showed that Planned Parenthood had changed the way abortions are performed to provide better specimens for medical research, but their accuracy has long been questioned. The videos are produced by abortion opponents with the clear intent of finding something to use against Planned Parenthood. They can be selectively edited to help prove a point, and viewers never know if other footage favorable to Planned Parenthood was left out.
At any rate, it shouldn’t have been enough to change a major state law. Yet Texas Republicans used the videos as a pretext to eliminate Medicaid coverage for birth-control access and other non-abortion-related health services to 11,000 low-income women at 30 clinics across the state.
Many of the women affected by this case in Texas don’t have access to any other kind of health care, which is bad enough. That makes it hard for them to hold jobs and attend school to climb out of poverty. And most of Planned Parenthood’s services have nothing to do with abortion — which is legal, after all.
Even so, Planned Parenthood, as the organization’s name clearly implies, helps women avoid getting pregnant when they don’t want to. In turn, they don’t even have to consider abortion, a goal that both sides of this debate should support.
This shouldn’t be that hard to figure out — fewer unplanned pregnancies means fewer abortions. Some Texas lawmakers apparently can’t make the connection, but we bet the people who vote for them will be able to.