Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Texas Squares Off With USA on Abortion

WACO, Texas (CN) - Texas sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Federal Court, challenging its defunding of the Texas Women's Health Program because of a state law that bans financing of clinics affiliated with abortion providers.

Attorney General Greg Abbott claims Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' decision to terminate federal funding violated the Administrative Procedure Act, being "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and 'not in accordance with law.'"

Texas claims Uncle Sam violated the Constitution "by seeking to commandeer and coerce the States' lawmaking processes into awarding taxpayer subsidies to elective abortion providers."

Texas made national news by rejecting federal health-care money, in what Gov. Rick Perry acknowledged was a way to starve Planned Parenthood of funding.

The Texas Women's Health Program, created in 2005, provides family planning and related health-care services for women 18 to 44 with income at or below 185 percent of the poverty level, who do not qualify for health-care coverage under Medicaid.

Texas says in its complain that the eligibility levels are aimed at increasing access to preventive health-care services, to reduce long-term costs and reduce abortions.

Federal funding pays for 90 percent of the cost of family planning services, while the state pays for the rest; the state and federal governments share program administrative costs equally.

"By all accounts, the Women's Health Program has been a success. By the end of 2010, 292,680 Texas women were enrolled in the Women's Health Program," the complaint states.

"[State officials] estimated that between 2007 and 2009, Medicaid savings totaled $121 million. Of that, federal taxpayer savings totaled an estimated $63 million. By expanding family-planning services to low-income women who do not qualify for Medicaid, the Women's Health Program has saved state and federal taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually in avoided Medicaid expenditures."

Texas claims that since the program began in 2005, the Legislature has prohibited taxpayer money from going to entities that perform or promote elective abortions, and from funding affiliates of entities that perform or promote elective abortions.

"This restriction was necessary to secure legislators' approval of the program, as many state legislators were adamantly opposed to establishing any new program that would provide taxpayer money to organizations - such as Planned Parenthood - that promote or provide elective abortions," the complaint states. "Without this statutory restriction on abortion subsidies, the Women's Health Program would not exist because the Texas Legislature would not have authorized its creation."

Texas claims the restrictions on abortion funding does not involve the Social Security Act, that the Department of Health and Human Services erroneously believes that it "requires every State to give taxpayer subsidies to elective-abortion providers - so long as those providers offer any form of health care covered by the State's Medicaid plan."

Texas claims the Social Security Act does not say that, "and it most assuredly does not impose this requirement with the unmistakably clear language that the Supreme Court requires for statutory conditions on the receipt of federal funds."

Texas claims the Act does not allow Medicaid recipients to obtain services from "any" health-care provider, only from a "qualified" provider.

"Because the State of Texas has a public policy preventing taxpayer funds from directly or indirectly subsidizing elective abortions, elective-abortion providers are not 'qualified' to provide the services offered in the Women's Health Program at taxpayer expense," the complaint states. "Because money is fungible, taxpayer money is used to support elective abortions whenever the State awards grants to entities or affiliates of entities that perform or promote elective abortions, even when the taxpayer funds are designated exclusively for nonabortion-related purposes."

Texas seeks declaratory judgment that its abortion restrictions do not involve the Social Security Act. It also seeks vacatur of the DHHS's denial of its request for a renewal of a Medicaid waiver, which resulted in the loss of federal funding for the program.

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