AUSTIN, March 20, 2012 ( – Texas’ attorney general is suing the Obama administration for gutting funding to a $40 million health program for low-income women because the state has banned the funds from going to a small fraction of providers affiliated with abortion, including Planned Parenthood.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration on Friday, one day after federal health officials announced the end of funding for Texas’ Women’s Health Program (WHP).

Last summer the state approved a bill that both cut abortion-affiliated groups from WHP and placed such groups at the bottom of a list of eligible recipients of family planning funds.


The Obama administration, which has punished or overridden several other states that have defunded Planned Parenthood, warned Texas that the new law was in violation of a federal statute requiring that any “qualified provider” be made available to Medicaid recipients.

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In his complaint, Abbott pointed to U.S. court precedent concluding that federal law “permit[s] a state to exclude an entity from its Medicaid program for any reason established by state law,” and also noted that federal Medicaid officials had pointed to the lack of cooperation with abortion providers as “the sole reason for the denial” of funding. Abbott called the administration’s move “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion,” and unconstitutionally coercive.

“The Secretary believes that 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23) requires every State to give taxpayer subsidies to elective-abortion providers—so long as those providers offer any form of health care covered by the State’s Medicaid plan,” states the complaint. “But section 1396a(a)(23) says no such thing, and it most assuredly does not impose this requirement with the unmistakably clear language that the Supreme Court requires for statutory conditions on the receipt of federal funds.”

Cindy Mann, director of the federal Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, had said that by not funding Planned Parenthood, Texas left the federal government “no choice” but to cut the health program, a joint federal-state initiative whose family planning services depended 90 percent on federal taxpayer dollars.

In a statement lauding the new legal action, Gov. Rick Perry decried the administration’s decision to cut the program.

“The Obama Administration’s decision to deny health care to more than 100,000 low-income Texas women demonstrates his unwavering allegiance to abortion providers and their affiliates,” said Perry, who noted that the state was in the process of transitioning existing state funds to WHP to keep the program afloat.

Officials said that the transition to a fully state-run program would take a few weeks, according to the Texas Tribune, which noted that the process could meet with some difficulty in the cash-strapped state.

Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said that there had been 44 Planned Parenthood clinics in the WHP, while the total number of providers stood at 2,562. Normally the federal government pays about $30 million into the program, while the state provides $3.5 million, she said.