Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced last Friday that the federal government will no longer provide funding through the Medicaid family planning program for the state of Texas. This comes after Governor Rick Perry's decision to implement a law that would exclude Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid women's health program, essentially cutting any government funding to Planned Parenthood. 11 clinics in the state have had to close as a result.
Officials at the Medicaid federal agency said that states are not allowed to restrict patient's access to particular providers and still receive federal funding. Cindy Mann, a top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, stated, "Medicaid law is clear - patients, not state government officials, are able to choose the health-care providers that are best for them and their families."
The Medicaid women's health program provides free birth control and exams to more than 130,000 women in the state. Texas will be the only state to have federal funding for this program withdrawn. Several states, however, such as Wisconsin, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Indiana, are considering similar action to Texas in cutting funding to Planned Parenthood clinics.
Media Resources: Reuters 3/16/12; Huffington Post 3/15/12; Wall Street Journal 3/15/12; Reuters 3/13/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .