"Abortion Affiliates" Banned From the New Texas Women's Health Program, But Doctors Allowed To Talk About Abortion

RickPerryUterus.jpg

The new Texas Women's Health Program is really going to be special. And by "special," we mean terrible. But as the Texas Tribune reports , state officials have made one tiny concession in response to complaints from women's advocacy and medical groups: Doctors will now be allowed to discuss the existence of abortion with their patients.

Quick recap: A fight between Governor Rick Perry's administration and the feds over abortion is bringing the federal Medicaid Women's Health Program to a close in Texas. Meanwhile, state officials have started outlining what their replacement program, the TWHP, will look like. (Although it's still not clear how we'll pay for it; the original plan was to use Medicaid expansion money, which Perry has loudly rejected.)

Texas was certain to ban "abortion affiliates" -- by which they mean Planned Parenthood -- from the TWHP. What's more, outgoing Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs also wanted to ban TWHP doctors from even talking about abortion with their patients.

The abortion affiliate ban has been officially put into place. The newly released rules for the TWHP say that overall the program "will favor childbirth and family planning services that do not include elective abortion or the promotion of elective abortion."
You can see this new rule in the Texas Register, where these types of state policy changes are recorded. The introduction to the new TWHP rules also pledges to "avoid the direct or indirect use of state funds to promote or support elective abortion."

Under these rules, abortions are not considered to be "elective" when a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, when it endangers a woman's life or when the fetus has a severe abnormality that is "incompatible with life outside the womb." TWHP doctors will presumably be allowed to perform abortions under those circumstances.

New Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek said Thursday that the proposed rule banning physicians from talking about abortion will not be put into place after all.

"What we wanted was to allow for one-on-one, private, non-directive counseling between a physician and her patient," Janek said, according to the Tribune. He acknowledged that a rule silencing doctors was probably "a bit of a gag rule," which is why the Texas Medical Association strongly opposed it.

The final wording says TWHP doctors can't call abortion providers on behalf of their patients, but can provide their names and contact information. Doctors who are in private practice with abortion providers, but don't perform them themselves, will also be allowed into the program. The new rules go into effect November 1.

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23 comments
CrackerHacker
CrackerHacker

I love the T-Shirt, but I wouldn't spit on Rick Perry's ass if his pasty white tuckus was on fire.

Come to think of it, setting his ass on fire might actually force the bigoted backwoods bum to get off his ass and actually do something.

 

But knowing Perry, he would probably do something wrong.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

"Doctors who are in private practice with abortion providers, but don't perform them themselves, will also be allowed into the program. "

 

Check me if I'm wrong, but by my reckoning, this little clarification here will make it legally very difficult to ban PP from the program.  Thanks to the Supreme Court recognizing corporations as individual "persons" in the eyes of the law, TX will have to treat the two separate corporate entities with PP branding as two separate healthcare providers.  So, on the one side, PP can continue to be a valuable women's health resource and part of a tax payer funded program, like it has been for many years.  And, on the other hand, PP can still provide a valuable, yet elective abortion service, outside of taxpayer funded programs, like it has been for many years.

 

If I'm right, TX has gone through this whole idiotic scenario to get us right back where we started from, minus the Federal monies.  Good Job Guv!

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Has anybody ever tried to explain to AdiosMoFo that Federal Medicaid dollars are paid out of the paychecks of Texans, and therefore should not be forfeited? It's better to bring that money back into Texas for medical care for Texans.

What a fucking idiot he is.

Bremarks
Bremarks

Anna, where can I get that t-shirt?

MattL11
MattL11

Wait, so the government is NOT going to restrict what a doctor can say to his or her patients?! Do they even have the power to do so in the first place? 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

It's sad and pathetic that my state strong-arms this bullshit though a public program that ignores educating patients of legal (and optional) procedures and tries to circumvent the Constitutional rights of women.

 

Roe V. Wade still stands, assholes. Deal with it. Take it up with the US Supreme Court. Good luck with that.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @RTGolden1 That's the idea behind banning "abortion affiliates" from the program. It's language that will really only apply to PP, as far as I can tell. This entire thing is just to get them out of the program. 

 

Fun fact: a lot of the remaining WHP provider aren't actually gynecologists and can't provide Well Woman exams or pap smears. They're just listed as WHP providers, for some weird reason. Andrea Grimes did a great video piece about it. http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/09/07/without-planned-parenthood-whats-left-texas-women-not-much

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @Bremarks I don't know! Either Wilonsky or Nick Rallo found that image.. but God knows if I find it, I'm gettin' one too. Will let you know. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @MattL11 They went much farther than that.  Their original idea was to prohibit a doctor from discussing a legal, regulated, relatively safe and effective medical procedure AND to further slap the Constitution in the face, require the doctor to present the patient with thinly veiled religious propaganda.  It will be interesting how this shakes out.  I'm guessing TX will be back in the SC over this one at least two more times before all's said and done.

Bremarks
Bremarks

 @MattL11

 No, they don't.  But that hasn't stopped the Governor and the Texas Legislature from trying.  In fact, they passed a law in the 2008 session that required doctors to tell patients that abortions caused breast cancer, even after the National Cancer Institute and AMA completed a long study totally disproving the theory.

roo_ster
roo_ster

 @Scruffygeist Legal or not, doesn't mean taxpayers have to subsidize killing babies in utero.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @Anna_Merlan  @RTGolden1 

What I believe is even more serious is the following from our own State Constitution:

 

"Article 1 (Titled Bill of Rights) Section 16, entitled Bills of Attainder; Ex Post Facto or Retroactive Laws: Impairing Obligation of Contracts: "No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, retroactive law, or any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be made"."

 

It seems that Li'l Ricky isn't even bothered by such trivia as our own State Constitution.

 

It seems to me that by definition that any bill or act by the Legislature to deny funding to Planned Parenthood because it has a division that performs elective abortions is by definition a bill of attainder.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @Anna_Merlan Well, by that reasoning, a doctor who shares a practice with a doctor who performs abortions would be the affiliate of an abortion provider, right?

I'm glad you're covering this story.  The usual Texas political tactic of 'wait until the furor dies down, then do what you want', doesn't seem to be working for the Guv. this time.  From your story here, and the way they're wording their explanations, they seem to have talked themselves into a corner.  Even more ironic that it was a Republican victory in Citizens United that re-affirmed the corporate identity as a 'person'.  They're going to look rather silly trying to explain how a corporation can be a person when donating to campaigns, but not be a person when providing a service.

roo_ster
roo_ster

 @RTGolden1  @MattL11 If the Texas Gov't were doing such between a patient paying for their own care, you might have a point.  As soon as hte taxpayers' money is involved, not so much.  Taxpayers paying the costs ought to be the boss.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @roo_ster  Good thing taxpayers don't subsidize that and never have. Really. Truly. Despite what your elected officials sometimes like to tell you. 

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @RTGolden1 You're right, it doesn't make much sense. And if they get backed into a corner on the affiliate thing and are forced to include PP, they've promised to just shut down the whole program. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @Anna_Merlan : gets you wondering, if a corporation is a person, when exactly does that "life" begin?

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