Tensions heat up as Texas escalates its war on women.
State health department agents raided Planned Parenthood agencies in four Texas cities last Thursday in the latest battle over Medicaid funding for the organization.
Agents from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission raided facilities in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Brownsville. The purpose of the raids was to issue subpoenas from state health investigators seeking hundreds of pages of staff and patient records to include employees’ home addresses and telephone numbers. The raid occurred “three days after Texas announced it had begun booting Planned Parenthood from the joint state-federal Medicaid program.”
Jezebel reports that among other things, the Health and Human Services Commission is demanding “physician orders, progress notes, personal clinic notes, nurses’ notes, procedure reports,” as well as lab tests, and the very broad “charts” and “graphs.” The records, according to the subpoena, are for patients billed through medicaid between November 1, 2010, and September 30, 2015 and where “the provider performed or provided an abortion and removed or preserved any part of the aborted fetus to be used for any research purpose.”
Although the Planned Parenthood facility located in the Texas-Mexico border city of Brownsville does not provide abortions:
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast was to turn over a complete copy of certain patients’ records, including doctors’ orders, nursing notes and lab tests, as well as the center’s appointment books, patient sign-in sheets and contracts.
Sarah Wheat, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said that: “We’re concerned about the breadth and depth of what they’re asking for.”
Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Texas Votes political action committee, issued a statement saying that the officials showed up “looking for an excuse to take health care away from thousands of women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive care.”
Governor Abbott’s political grandstanding is on full display this morning. Representatives from the Texas Office of Inspector General showed up at Planned Parenthood health centers in Brownsville, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio looking for an excuse to take health care away from thousands of women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive care — but what they will see is professional, compassionate and quality health care. Despite their efforts to distort the truth, health care — no matter what — is what happens at Planned Parenthood.
Ken Lambrecht, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, call the request for documents “unprecedented and unnecessary” at a subsequent press conference in Austin.
“We believe this is a fishing expedition,” Lambrecht said, adding “We believe that this is exactly what it is, another political attack targeted at Planned Parenthood.”
“We will make every effort to comply with the state’s request but see this is an excuse to take healthcare away from thousands of women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive care,” Lambrecht continued, adding: “We comply with all state laws and regulations. Protecting the confidentiality of our patients and employees is paramount. We will do everything we can to ensure their confidentiality as we cooperate with the state’s request.”
Sandra Spencer, director of the women and gender studies program at the University of North Texas, said the raids are “a blatant, politicized move for control of women,” adding: “It’s about white men standing around the table. Women aren’t being consulted and women’s groups aren’t being consulted.”
Mother Jones reports that Planned Parenthood “also issued a statement” regarding the raids:
Underscoring the political motivations behind these raids, officials in San Antonio showed up at Planned Parenthood’s health center at the same time as a reporter, in what appeared to be a coordinated move. Reporters received notice of the contract termination prior to Planned Parenthood affiliates. It seems that, after the fact, the state raided Planned Parenthood’s health centers looking for an excuse to justify its politically motivated actions.
A spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission declined comment, saying the agency’s investigative division could not “provide comment on any oversight or investigative activities.”
ABC affiliate KVIA-7 reports that: “Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla said Friday the clinic now has until Oct. 30 to respond to a request for documents going back five years. The original deadline had been 24 hours.”
The status of the other clinics is unknown at this time.