While President Obama has long been an advocate of women’s reproductive rights, during his terms, many states have been on an unprecedented mission to stop all of women’s choices, including abortion, birth control and the ability to get a pap smear at a local Planned Parenthood. On Tuesday, the Obama administration sent a very strongly worded letter to the states. According to the administration, what many are doing is illegal.
The letter was sent to the Medicaid director of each state that is trying to defund the women’s health organization by cutting off their Medicaid payments. Actually, it went to all the states, just in case. According to the letter, the fact that Planned Parenthood provides other health services beyond abortion makes it illegal for states to cut off funding.
The letter, sent to each state’s Medicaid director, cautions lawmakers that “providing the full range of women’s health services… shall not be grounds for a state’s action against a provider in the Medicaid program.” In other words, the fact Planned Parenthood provides abortion services in addition to other women’s health services is not legal grounds to cut it off from Medicaid funding. It stipulates that the only justifiable reason to remove a provider’s Medicaid funding is if that provider isn’t able to bill for or perform covered medical services.
Source: Think Progress
This isn’t the first time the Obama administration has accused the 24 states that are cutting off Planned Parenthood funding of violating federal law, but this letter is the first of its kind and it’s a sign that it’s something Obama is taking very seriously.
Because of the Hyde Amendment, it’s already illegal for federal tax dollars to go toward abortions. That’s a horrible law, but it’s one that Democrats seem to be rolling over and accepting. Cutting off funding for other health services, though, is something else altogether. While Medicaid is technically a state-run program, they are not autonomous because the feds pick up part of the tab. States might have control over how they spend their own tax revenue (to a point), but these tax dollars come from you and me and only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s budget is used for abortions.
Of course, the attack on Planned Parenthood has very little to do with abortion and everything to do with attacking women and the poor and this isn’t theoretical. As Planned Parenthoods have closed, poor women have begun having more babies, and it’s not just due to lack of abortions. More than 2 million women come to Planned Parenthood every year for contraception and other health services.
Featured image via Alex Wong at Getty Images.