Planned Parenthoods Sue State of Texas

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - NewsWest 9 learned in a teleconference Wednesday morning that Planned Parenthoods in Texas are taking the state to court.

"My firm filed suit this morning in federal court in Austin on behalf of eight Planned Parenthood entities that operate health centers," Pete Schenkkan with Graves, Dougherty, Hearon and Moody Law Firm, said. "We're asking the federal court to block this new Texas Health and Human Services Commission rule."

That rule by the Commission prevents federal funding for the program to go to clinics that provide abortions.

130,000 low-income women run the risk of paying for contraceptives, cancer screenings, pap smears and treatments they used to get for free at the clinic under the program.

Pro-Life supporters said there are other clinics where women can get those services but Planned Parenthood argues their part in that care was too large to be ignored.

"We provide over 40% of care to women enrolled in the Women's Health Program throughout the state and for us to be eliminated is not right," Karen Hildebrand, President of Planned Parenthood of West Texas, said.

The Midland clinic sees a dark future of Texas health care should they lose the funding.

"All of Texas will see an increase in unintended pregnancies which will increase the abortion rate which is the prime concern of these people that are opposed to us, so if you are against abortion, you need to support a program that provides birth control," Hildebrand said.

"Yes, they do other things, contraceptives, other things like that," President of Pro-Life Midland, Michael Banschbach, said. "Many of the contraceptives cause abortion."

State officials said federal block grants and other state funding can pay for the program instead.

Pro-Life supporters said the trust should be placed in the government to provide the funding for clinics that stay away from abortions.

"The Texas Legislature passed this overwhelmingly," Banschbach said. "I think they'll do what they need to do to fund the Women's Health Program. This is law, the legislative body passed this law. This is sour grapes from Planned Parenthood."

Opinions rage from both sides but only time and the federal courts will decide the fate of the lawsuit.