Federal health officials announced Thursday what state leaders had predicted for weeks: that they are halting funding for the program — which provides contraception, well woman exams and cancer screenings for more than 100,000 women every year — over Texas' decision to ban Planned Parenthood clinics from participating.
Texas' Republican leaders make a states' rights argument, saying they've got every right to pass rules that ban Planned Parenthood; the Obama administration says the move violates federal Medicaid law. Gov. Rick Perry has vowed to find the funds — some $30 million a year — to run the program without the federal government's help.
On Friday, Abbott filed suit against U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, saying that the federal government's action is unconstitutional because it seeks to "commandeer and coerce the states' lawmaking processes into awarding taxpayer subsidies to elective abortion providers." In the complaint, Abbott asks that the federal government resume funding for the program.
Cindy Mann, director of the federal Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, said Thursday that Texas left her agency no other choice by forging ahead with a rule designed to force Planned Parenthood clinics out of the program
"We have no choice but to not renew their program," Mann said. "... We very much regret that the state of Texas has taken this course."
Perry said the blame for the lost federal dollars falls squarely at the feet of the Obama administration.
“Texans send a substantial amount of our tax dollars to Washington, D.C., and it is unconscionable that the Obama administration has essentially told Texas it will send our tax dollars back to fund this program only if we violate state law and include its pro-abortion allies," Perrysaid Thursday.
Texas Democrats argue Perry and Abbott are "wagering women's health in their political game of chicken."
"Perry and Abbott should admit they made an epic mistake and stop wasting taxpayer dollars to pay for these purely political lawsuits," said Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña.