Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Pete Olson Spearhead Brief Backing Texas Defunding of Planned Parenthood

Defund planned parenthood AP

Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Pete Olson are leading an amicus brief of 42 members of Congress that defends the decision of the state of Texas to defund Planned Parenthood by eliminating its eligibility for Medicaid reimbursement.

The amicus brief, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, says that states have the right to partner with the healthcare providers of their choosing:

The Medicaid Act permits States to disassociate from healthcare providers who conduct their business under a tradename or symbol that is linked to offensive or controversial ideologies. If a would-be Medicaid provider names itself after the Hemlock Society, the John Birch Society, or the Washington Redskins, a State may decide that the provider is not “qualified” to administer a state-run social-welfare program, even if the entity provides first-rate medical care. Texas, for example, has long excluded the Ku Klux Klan from its Adopt-a-Highway program—not because Texas doubts the Klan’s ability to keep the highways clean, but because Texas is unwilling to lend its imprimatur to organizations that espouse racism. See State of Texas v. Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, 58 F.3d 1075 (5th Cir. 1995). A State may likewise decide that it will not partner with healthcare providers whose tradenames are linked to offensive or controversial ideologies, and that providers who insist on using such tradenames are not “qualified to perform” medical services within a state-run welfare program.

The name “Planned Parenthood” has become synonymous with an abortion-on-demand ideology that millions of Americans find abhorrent. The “Planned Parenthood” name has been further tainted by recently released videos that show employees and affiliates displaying cavalier attitudes toward abortion and discussing ethically questionable practices — videos which prompted the organization’s President, Cecile Richards, to publicly apologize for the “tone and statements” that were expressed. And the “Planned Parenthood” name is inextricably connected to its founder Margaret Sanger, who uttered many controversial statements on race and eugenics.

“Planned Parenthood has been subject to a series of thorough investigations by both chambers in Congress, where evidence of gross misconduct, including a widespread practice of trafficking fetal body parts directly violating federal and state law, was discovered,” Cruz said in a statement, adding:

The state of Texas took the only responsible course of action and eliminated Planned Parenthood from eligibility for state Medicaid funds. These measures were sensible, within Texas’ sovereign and statutory authority, and necessary to protect Texans from the organization’s dangerous practices. In filing this brief along with Rep. Olson, we are taking a strong stand in defense of the unborn while defending the rights of the state of Texas to decide how to allocate its precious resources.

Similarly, Olson said in the statement:

States like Texas should have every right to determine how their tax dollars are spent. I’m pleased to join with Senator Cruz to stand in defense of both states’ rights and the unborn in support of Texas’ effort to remove Planned Parenthood from its list of qualified Medicaid providers. The undercover work that shed a light on the allegations harvesting of unborn baby tissue and organs for profit only strengthens our objections to Planned Parenthood receiving tax dollars. A majority of Texans strongly object to tax dollars going to organizations that perform abortions. As a father and legislator, I support women’s access to quality healthcare by funding clinics that don’t perform abortions, or harvest organs and tissue for profit. I thank my House and Senate colleagues for joining us in this amicus brief in support of life and states’ rights.

In February, a federal judge blocked the state from eliminating Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin said there is no “evidence” of Planned Parenthood’s wrongdoing in videos alleging the abortion chain harvests the body parts of aborted babies and sells them for a profit.

More than a dozen states have attempted to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s funding in the wake of the release of videos in 2015 that alleged the abortion chain harvests the body parts of babies aborted in its clinics and sells them for a profit. These states have redirected taxpayer funding to other healthcare centers that do not perform abortions but have met the federal government’s criteria and provide more expansive healthcare services than Planned Parenthood.

In April, President Donald Trump signed a resolution that overturned former President Barack Obama’s rule – enacted during his last days in office – that forced states to provide family planning grants under Title X to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

The House had approved H.J. Res. 43, introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), in February. The resolution used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to rescind the Obama administration rule.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) sponsored the measure in the Senate. Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote at the end of March to enable approval in that chamber after Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against it.

The Heritage Foundation’s Melanie Israel wrote at the Daily Signal the resolution was necessary “to both protect life and reassert that the states have Tenth Amendment rights to allocate Title X family planning grants in such a manner that prioritizes community health clinics and true family planning over the industrial abortion industry as represented by Planned Parenthood.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives have referred Planned Parenthood and several biomedical procurement companies with which it partners for investigation and possible criminal prosecution following extensive congressional probes into the allegations of illegal profiteering from the sales of fetal tissue.

Senate and House members supporting the Cruz-Olson amicus brief include:

Senators: Ted Cruz (TX), Bill Cassidy (LA), John Cornyn (TX), James Inhofe (OK), John Kennedy (LA), Jerry Moran (KS), James E. Risch (ID), & Tim Scott (SC).

House members: Pete Olson (TX), Robert Aderholt (AL), Jodey Arrington (TX), Brian Babin (TX), Diane Black (TN), Kevin Brady (TX), Bradley Byrne (AL), John Carter (TX), Michael Conaway (TX), Kevin Cramer (ND), Blake Farenthold (TX), Bill Flores (TX), Trent Franks (AZ), Louie Gohmert (TX), Andy Harris (MD), Vicky Hartzler (MO), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Walter Jones (NC), Trent Kelly (MS), Steve King (IA), Doug Lamborn (CO), Kenny Marchant (TX), Michael McCaul (TX), Paul Mitchell (MI), Alex X. Mooney (WV), Robert Pittenger (NC), John Ratcliffe (TX), Keith Rothfus (PA), Christopher Smith (NJ), Lamar Smith (TX), Ann Wagner (MO), Randy Weber (TX), Daniel Webster (FL), & Roger Williams (TX).

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