Texas media are omitting crucial information in reports on the state’s move to cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood, including that Texas’ decision was largely based on debunked videos by an anti-abortion activist group, the Center for Medical Progress, and that the move will negatively impact women’s health. In contrast, reporting by online outlets geared toward women put Texas media to shame, explaining that the evidence behind the policy decision is misleading and that the defunding will have dire consequences for women’s health in Texas.
Texas Lawmakers Finalize Move To Cut Off Medicaid Funding To Planned Parenthood, Citing Discredited Center For Medical Progress Videos
AP: Texas Notifies Planned Parenthood Of Intention “To Cut Off Medicaid Funds Soon.” Texas officials notified Planned Parenthood on December 20 that the state “plans to cut off Medicaid funds soon,” The Associated Press (AP) reported. According to the AP report, Texas Health and Human Services Inspector General Stuart Bowen referenced videos from the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as a reason to cut off funds to the health care organization. From the December 21 AP report:
Texas put Planned Parenthood on notice Tuesday it plans to cut off Medicaid funds soon.
It's a move that federal judges have blocked in other Republican-controlled states, which are now waiting to see if President-elect Donald Trump will strip the organization of taxpayer money.
Planned Parenthood responded by vowing to ask a court to stop Texas from defunding clinics in January. Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kansas are among the states where judges have denied similar efforts.
Planned Parenthood says its clinics serve nearly 11,000 women in Texas each year through Medicaid. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott pledged to kick Planned Parenthood out of the state's Medicaid program more than a year ago, joining other socially conservative governors who took similar steps in 2015, when an anti-abortion rights group released heavily edited and secretly recorded videos that it claimed showed Planned Parenthood officials profiting from sales of fetal tissue for medical research.
Texas Health and Human Services Inspector General Stuart Bowen referenced the videos as “the basis for your termination” in his letter to Planned Parenthood. He accused Planned Parenthood of “misrepresentations,” a charge that other states have also lobbed against the group. [The Associated Press, 12/21/16]
Local Media In Texas Omit Crucial Context About CMP And The Impact Of Defunding Planned Parenthood
Houston Chronicle Merely Notes That Planned Parenthood “Consistently Has Denied” Allegations From CMP. In a December 21 report, the Houston Chronicle reported that “Planned Parenthood consistently has denied they engage in such practices” alleged in the CMP videos, but included no information explaining that the videos have been discredited or on how the funding cuts could impact women in Texas. [Houston Chronicle, 12/21/16]
Dallas Morning News Barely Notes That Planned Parenthood Has “Denied” CMP’s Claims. In a December 20 article, the Dallas Morning News only included one line noting that “Planned Parenthood officials have denied ... claims” from the CMP videos. The article made no mention of the impact the move will have on Texas women. [Dallas Morning News, 12/20/16]
Online Report By Radio Stations WBAP And KLIF Makes No Mention Of The Impact Or Misleading Evidence Behind The Defunding. A December 21 report from Texas radio stations WBAP and KLIF made no mention of the misleading nature of the CMP videos, nor did it allude to the impact of the policy on Texas women. [KLIF, 12/21/16]
Austin’s KXAN: CMP Videos Are Merely “Controversial.” A report from Austin NBC affiliate KXAN called the CMP videos “controversial” and failed to mention that they were discredited and misleading. The article also failed the note the consequences the move will have on women in the state. [KXAN, 12/20/16]
CMP’s Deceptively Edited Videos Have Been Debunked, And 14 Investigations Have Cleared Planned Parenthood Of All Wrongdoing
Anti-Choice CMP Released Multiple Deceptive Videos Attacking Planned Parenthood -- All Of Which Have Been Debunked. Starting in July 2015, CMP released multiple videos containing undercover footage of discussions with Planned Parenthood personnel and staff members of private, for-profit biomedical procurement companies. CMP claimed that its videos showed that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue and altering abortion procedures in order to profit. Scores of media outlets have confirmed that the footage shows no illegal behavior by, or on behalf of, Planned Parenthood, and that the words of Planned Parenthood personnel who were secretly filmed have been “grossly [taken] out of context.” [Media Matters, 8/31/15]
To Date, 14 Investigations Have Cleared Planned Parenthood. CMP’s deceptively edited videos have spurred at least 13 states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to launch investigations into Planned Parenthood's operations, even though there are “only three states in which Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics can participate in fetal tissue donation programs,” according to Yahoo News. All 13 states -- Massachusetts, Indiana, South Dakota, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, Kansas, Washington, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina -- and the federal health department have announced that they found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood nor any known violations of federal fetal tissue laws. [Media Matters, 8/24/15]
Texas Grand Jury Indicted Two Members Of Anti-Choice Group CMP. In January, a Houston, TX, grand jury charged with investigating Planned Parenthood following the release of CMP’s deceptive videos cleared the organization of any wrongdoing. The jury instead indicted CMP founder David Daleiden and his associate Sandra Merritt for tampering with a governmental record in creating fake California driver's licenses. Daleiden was also indicted on a misdemeanor charge related to his offers to Planned Parenthood officials in Texas to purchase human organs. Both indictments were later dismissed on technicalities related to “language left out of the original indictment” and evidentiary limits, not on the merits of the charges. [Media Matters, 1/26/16, 7/28/16; The Texas Observer, 7/14/16]
State-Level Defunding Of Planned Parenthood Has Already Had Negative Impacts On Community Health
After State Funding Cuts Forced Rural Indiana Planned Parenthood Clinics To Close, Scott County Became Center Of “Exploding HIV Outbreak.” In 2011, Indiana’s anti-choice legislature cut state funding for Planned Parenthood -- forcing five Planned Parenthood clinics to close. These cuts left rural Scott County without an HIV testing center as it experienced a sharp increase in HIV infections. According to a 2015 article in The Huffington Post, the cuts made Scott County “the center of an exploding HIV outbreak” while the state was left “scrambling to erect pop-up clinics to combat an unprecedented HIV epidemic”:
Scott County, Indiana, the center of an exploding HIV outbreak, has been without an HIV testing center since early 2013, when the sole provider -- a Planned Parenthood clinic -- was forced to close its doors. The clinic did not offer abortion services.
The Scott County clinic and four other Planned Parenthood facilities in the state, all of which provided HIV testing and information, have shuttered since 2011, in large part due to funding cuts to the state's public health infrastructure. Those cuts came amid a national and local political campaign to demonize the health care provider. Now, the state is scrambling to erect pop-up clinics to combat an unprecedented HIV epidemic caused by intravenous drug use.
Stauffer said if the Planned Parenthood facilities in Scottsburg and Madison, both in southwest rural Indiana, had received the funding they needed to stay open, they could have been a vital resource in preventing the current HIV outbreak. [The Huffington Post, 3/31/15]
Texas Defunded And Cancelled Contracts With Planned Parenthood To The Detriment Of Community Health. Joseph Potter, a professor of sociology and the principal investigator of the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP), investigated the impact of the Texas legislature's decision to exclude Planned Parenthood from the state’s reproductive health safety-net program. According to a 2015 guest column in the San Antonio Express-News, Potter found “not all federally qualified health centers” or community clinics were interested in “becoming a family-planning provider.” Similarly, he found that “there have also been problems for the women faced with finding a new provider” once Planned Parenthood was no longer an option. A June 2016 report by the Texas Observer found that in Harris County, TX -- which had the highest number of new HIV diagnoses in the state in 2014 -- the county’s health department hadn’t conducted a single HIV test since the elimination of its contract with Planned Parenthood in December 2015. [San Antonio Express-News, 8/15/15; Texas Observer, 6/8/16]
Reporting By Women's Outlets Outshines TX Local Media, Contextualizing CMP’s Debunked Claims And The Negative Health Consequences Of Defunding Planned Parenthood
Bustle: The CMP Videos Behind The Policy “Were Proven To Be False.” Bustle pointed out that the CMP videos behind the decision were “heavily edited … to suggest Planned Parenthood was profiting from the sale of fetal tissue after abortions,” adding that they were eventually “proven to be false.” Bustle also noted that the decision will affect “11,000 low-income women,” many of whom “live in rural areas where there aren't enough health care providers, and if they don't have health insurance, Planned Parenthood is oftentimes the only place they can receive the care they need.” The article also explained that the funds will deprive women of services “like STD tests, cancer screenings, and birth control.” From the December 21 article:
Women's health took a blow on Tuesday, when state officials in Texas announced plans to cut Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funding. This move has been a long time coming; the idea first came about in 2015, when the doctored Planned Parenthood videos were first released. The graphic videos — which in their heavily edited versions seemed to suggest Planned Parenthood was profiting from the sale of fetal tissue after abortions — caused a firestorm for the organization. And though the damaging claims in the video were proven to be false, some aren't willing to accept the facts.
This decision, a moral victory for the anti-abortion movement in the Texas state capitol, will have a terrible effect on the 11,000 Texan women who access Planned Parenthood using Medicaid. The organization already can't use federal funds for abortion services, so the $3 million to $4 million that they will lose will actually only affect other services that they provide, like STD tests, cancer screenings, and birth control. Many of those 11,000 low-income women also live in rural areas where there aren't enough health care providers, and if they don't have health insurance, Planned Parenthood is oftentimes the only place they can receive the care they need. [Bustle, 12/21/16]
Refinery29: Planned Parenthood Defunding Is “Severely Limiting Low-Income Women's Access To Healthcare,” Even Though “Investigations Turned Up No Evidence” To Back Up Claims From CMP Videos. Refinery29 explained that the CMP videos inspired the move to defund Planned Parenthood from Medicaid, “despite the fact that investigations turned up no evidence” of wrongdoing on Planned Parenthood’s behalf. From the December 20 article:
As if women's health wasn't in jeopardy enough in the coming years, Texas just officially decided to defund Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid program, severely limiting low-income women's access to healthcare. The Texas Tribune reports that the state delivered a final legal notice on Tuesday that eliminates funding in 30 days.
Texas Health and Human Services Inspector General Stuart Bowen says the undercover videos that purported to prove that the that the organization is profiting off the sales of fetal tissue are to blame, despite the fact that investigations turned up no evidence. [Refinery29, 12/20/16]
Teen Vogue: Texas’ Move “Is Possibly The Biggest Assault To Women’s Health Yet.” Teen Vogue explained that Texas’ decision to block Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood is “possibly the [state’s] biggest assault to women’s health yet.” The article explained that the CMP videos “turned out to be heavily edited, and did not reflect the actual conversations of practices” of Planned Parenthood clinics, and quoted an official from the political arm of Planned Parenthood Texas explaining “the incredibly damaging effect that slashing these funds will have on real women.” From the December 21 article:
Texas has a history of limiting women's reproductive rights, but the state legislature's latest move is possibly the biggest assault to women's health yet.
This after “leaked” videos of Planned Parenthood officials talking about selling fetal tissue. The problem is those videos turned out to be heavily edited, and did not reflect the actual conversations or practices of the clinic. Still, Texas is really running with this false idea that the people who provide critical healthcare to women are evil.
The Tribune reports Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, a political arm of the organization, plans to attempt to stop the Medicaid cuts through the courts.
“Planned Parenthood continues to serve Medicaid patients and will seek a preliminary injunction in an ongoing lawsuit filed in November 2015, following the state’s original threats to take action against Planned Parenthood’s patients,” Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said.
Yvonne also outlined the incredibly damaging effect that slashing these funds will have on real women.
“We have seen the devastation caused to Texans when the state blocks access to care at Planned Parenthood. Already, tens of thousands of people are going without birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, and other care," she said. “The maternal mortality rate continues to rise. Yet [Texas Gov. Greg Abbott] is hell-bent on chasing this ideological agenda, regardless of how many women it hurts.” [Teen Vogue, 12/21/16]
Jezebel: Defunding Planned Parenthood Through Medicaid “Will Affect Thousands Of Poor Women Who Depend On The Clinics.” Jezebel explained in a December 20 blog post that the decision “will affect thousands of poor women who depend on the clinics for Well Woman checkups, cancer screenings, birth control and various other forms of preventive care.” [Jezebel, 12/20/16]