The Trump administration has “opened the floodgates” for a wave of anti-abortion policies across America by allowing Texas to introduce a scheme which blocks patients from getting care at healthcare services which provide abortion, service providers warned.
Texas will be able to impose a Medicaid family planning programme which prohibits women from getting care at Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care services which also offer abortion.
Planned Parenthood argued the move overturns established federal law and sets a “dangerous precedent” for other states to push for similar measures.
US federal law necessitates states to allow Medicaid patients their choice of “any willing provider” and this includes services which allow women to have their pregnancy terminated.
Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said: “This move is reckless and repugnant. The Trump administration is willfully bending the rules to allow Texas to block patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood and is funding a failed program designed to limit access to reproductive health care.
“This dangerous decision opens the floodgates for other anti-abortion politicians to follow suit, putting health care at risk for people across the country. When Texas first barred Planned Parenthood from serving patients, nearly 40 per cent fewer women got the health care they needed. Is that what the Trump administration wants to replicate across the country?
“Access to quality health care shouldn’t depend on who you are, how much you earn, or where you live. Yet, that’s the future the Trump administration is working to create.”
Planned Parenthood would not stop fighting until everyone has the “right to control their own bodies” and receive the “care they need”, he added.
Campaigners warn the Department of Health and Human Services’ decision could inspire other states to bar Planned Parenthood which could, in turn, have major consequences for access to abortion across the US.
Texas barred Planned Parenthood from its low-income Medicaid women’s health program back in 2013 but the Obama administration found this breached federal law. The decision to block Planned Parenthood in the wake of budget cuts in 2011 led to dozens of family planning clinics shutting their doors and tens of thousands of people losing access to reproductive health care.
Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said: “The Lone Star State is once again in partnership with the Trump administration to drastically slash meaningful family planning and health services while fostering a culture that is anti-women, anti-choice and anti-healthcare.”
While Texas has the highest rate of uninsured women of childbearing age in the whole of the US, at least 60 per cent of Planned Parenthood patients across America access care via the Medicaid program.
Alice Huling, a lawyer for the Campaign for Accountability public interest watchdog, said: “Planned Parenthood does a lot more than just providing abortion. It helps with other sorts of reproductive healthcare such as access to contraception, STI testing and treatment and cancer screenings. They provide basic healthcare. For some people, their Planned Parenthood doctor is their main doctor.
“A lot of Planned Parenthood funding has to come from private donors now federal funding is being attacked.”