Monday, March 19, 2012

Who Really Cares About Women's Health?

In an astounding misrepresentation of events, many news outlets have been reporting that Texas Republicans and Governor Rick Perry are canceling the Women's Health Program (WHP). The program, a Medicaid initiative to provide preventative health services to low-income women, is in fact slated to be canceled. However, it is President Obama who is trying to kill the program, and largely to make a political point.

The President's desire to end the program is due to new rules passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. Texas now prohibits any WHP funds from going to entities that “perform or promote elective abortion,” a ruling that effectively excludes abortion-oriented Planned Parenthood. Critics of the new rules claim Planned Parenthood is essential to providing 'health-care' to low-income women, but the facts tell another story.

To begin, there are some 2,500 qualified providers in the WHP operating more than 4,600 locations. But there are only 44 Planned Parenthood sites, representing less than 2% of the clinics. According to a recent map published by the Texas Tribune, the Planned Parenthood clinics are concentrated in a few urban areas and surrounded by other WHP providers. 

But even if Planned Parenthood had more participating clinics, it appears they do not provide the kind of services most Americans associate with health care. According to public records, no Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas maintains equipment or licensing for mammogram machines. Furthermore, if a patient needs a doctor for anything other than abortion, she must be sent to another WHP clinic, since Planned Parenthood 'doctors' only perform abortions. Texas legislators wisely chose to cut out the middle man and send patients directly to comprehensive clinics.

Another troubling aspect of Planned Parenthood's participation in WHP is the organization's apparent disregard for the law. In 2009, Planned Parenthood San Antonio was fined more than $100,000 for operating four illegal abortion facilities without a license, and had to return hundreds of thousands of WHP funds. In the same year, Planned Parenthood of El Paso was found to have engaged in Medicaid fraud, and closed abruptly.

And the allegations keep coming. Last year former Planned Parenthood employee Karen Reynolds filed a complaint with the Texas Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that the organization systematically falsified medical charts for abortion clients to make it appear as if these clients came in for other services. Included in Reynold's complaint are memos instructing employees to falsify records to obtain Medicaid reimbursements. And just last week the Washington Times reported that former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Planned Parenthood clinics in Southeast Texas of submitting more than $6 million in fraudulent Medicaid claims.

In addition to legal and ethical problems (Planned Parenthood is also under investigation for sex trafficking of minor girls and failure to report abuse,) the abortion business doesn't provide much value to the taxpayer. According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Planned Parenthood's cost per client is 43% higher than most other WHP providers.

Despite multiple issues surrounding Planned Parenthood's participation in the Women's Health Program, President Obama prefers to cancel the entire service rather than provide comprehensive health-care for low-income women. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood and the White House are attempting to blame Governor Perry for the demise of WHP. However, the Governor announced last week that Texas would replace the funds Obama canceled and will continue the program. It seems that while the President prefers to make political points about abortion, it is Texas and Governor Perry who are looking out for women's health.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Planned Parenthood Not the Only Game in Town

As expected, reporters at the Texas Tribune are whining that the Texas Women's Health Program is in jeopardy because of the eeevil Texas Legislature.  They carefully avoid mentioning that it is President Obama who is threatening to kill the program since Texas has excluded Planned Parenthood from participation.   The popular narrative seems to be that Planned Parenthood is the only game in town, and excluding PP clinics will deprive poor women of health care. 

Only the Tribune also includes an interactive map of participating clinics, and surprise!  Most of the WHP clinics are not Planned Parenthood affiliates after all.  In fact, the few Planned Parenthood facilities who participate are surrounded by multiple other clinics that do not affiliate with the abortion business. 

So it looks like continuing the Women's Health Program while excluding Planned Parenthood won't deprive any women from receiving services, but it will keep the nation's number one abortion provider from receiving about $17 million in subsidies.

View the Tribune map for yourself:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Limiting the Little Gods Of Government

Last month President Obama announced new national health care rules requiring all employers to provide 'free' contraception. He claimed the rules constitute a compromise with Catholics, because supposedly the insurer, not the employer, will absorb related costs. Certain Catholic Bishops who initially supported Obama's health care plan, reacted with dismay and anger, since the President had promised to respect their beliefs about contraception and abortion. But they should not have been surprised by the betrayal; although their intentions were good, their efforts were doomed by a misplaced faith in Government.

While the President touts the new rules as a compromise, opponents note that a number of employers self-insure, and even outside insurance companies indirectly pass the costs to employers. Directly or indirectly, employers will bear the costs of 'free' contraception. But this isn't just about birth-control pills. 'Contraception' as defined by government bureaucrats includes surgical sterilization and chemical abortions. President Obama's new rules will force coverage of abortion procedures.

While not all Americans agree with Catholic values regarding the sanctity of life, all should take heed of the dangers of investing too much power in the hands of Government.

Misplaced faith in the institutions of government is nothing new. People of various faiths have repeatedly turned to 'Government' to cure societal ills and take care of all needs. Ancient Jews infamously begged for monarchy, Thomas More suggested an imposed Utopia, and even Plato proposed a powerful Philosopher King. The premise is that a benevolent dictatorship can eradicate human suffering and allow us to all live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, the 'Government' on which we want to depend does not exist. Rather than better angels, government is made up of mere humans -who at best will make mistakes. At worst they will be utterly corrupt, and the majority will fall somewhere in between. In order to reach a theoretical Utopia, we must surrender rights and liberties to other mortals. Unfortunately, men and women in government often resemble the capricious and petty gods of Olympus, and our Philosopher King is more apt to behave like Zeus or Hera rather than a just and virtuous deity.

The Catholic Bishops were deceived when led to believe the President would respect their religious principles. However, even if Obama were a devout Catholic (hard to imagine, I know,) he is neither eternal nor omnipotent. Eventually some other 'god' would become president or king, and other judgments and values would be imposed. By then, government control over Catholic employers would have been firmly entrenched and religious objections rendered inconsequential.

Differences between various belief systems will never disappear, and with those differences there will always be a degree of intolerance. Recently in Central Texas, an anonymous person left notes objecting to Bibles on the desks of Cedar Park City Councilmen Tony Dale and Matt Powell. Apparently, 'Anonymous' would like the power to forbid Bibles on government property. But inordinate government power can lead to persecution of any group, and we could find that the Qur’an, Bhagavad Gita, or Communist Manifesto are banned as well.

The lesson here is that while we all desire a better society, surrendering too many of our rights and liberties to 'Government' is doomed to failure. Many countries have attempted a government-imposed 'perfect' society, but the worst of human nature usually takes the helm and produces the kind of suffering that characterized Stalinist Russia. Government can provide a framework for society and work to protect the innocent, but its power must be limited. Excessive trust in the god of 'Government' never results in Utopia, but may very well create Hell on earth.

The above column was published in The Hill Country News and the Jarrell Star Ledger.  I was amused by one critic who said including the Communist Manifesto was inappropriate since it is a political work.  However, it takes a great leap of faith in the 'little gods of Government' to believe in the Communist Manifesto!  In fact Marx used the work to draw up a 'catechism' entitled Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith.  I would suggest that it is indeed, a work of theology.  I guess my critic missed the point entirely. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Governor Perry: Obama Administration Placing Pro-Abortion Politics Over Women's Health

Editorial by Governor Rick Perry on the President's plan to cancel the Texas Women's Health Program.  You may thank the Governor for continuing this fight to provide comprehensive health care for poor women here

March 1, 2012
President Obama's Administration plans to cancel funding for a long-standing and cost-effective health and wellness program for more than 100,000 Texas women. This move will cut off access to screenings for breast and cervical cancer, hypertension and diabetes, STD testing and family planning services for Texas women who otherwise could not afford them.

Unfortunately, President Obama and his allies are once again putting their political agenda ahead of sound policy and the delivery of cost-efficient health care. They are trampling on the rights of states like Texas to create programs like the Women's Health Program and to administer it for Texans by Texans.

Why would the Obama Administration take away access to health care for low-income Texas women? Because this administration puts funding for abortion providers and affiliates ahead of funding for women's cancer screenings and other preventative health care. Texas, operating under the direction of an overwhelming and bipartisan majority of legislators, prohibits abortion providers and affiliates like Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayer money.

Because Texas refuses to fund abortion providers and their affiliates, the federal government has announced that it will cancel the Women's Health Program. To me, this reflects a twisted set of values, not to mention a continued disregard for the basic concept of states' rights.

Under federal law, Washington leaves it to state leaders to administer the Medicaid program and set criteria for who is, and is not, a qualified provider. Consistent with state and federal law, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) developed a program that would ensure continued access to care by qualified providers across Texas and asked the Obama Administration for approval.

However, the Obama Administration apparently is unwilling to allow the exclusion of organizations like Planned Parenthood, as Texas law requires, even though that organization represents less than 2 percent of enrolled providers. Texas has more than 2,500 qualified providers in 4,600 sites across the state, ready to deliver care.

If this debate were really about health care, the Obama Administration would allow the Texas Women's Health Program to continue.

Instead, the administration's stated intention to reject the Texas program reflects nothing more than its pro-abortion agenda, and is a blatant pander to the president's liberal base, which has made Planned Parenthood's abortion services a celebrated cause.

Texas is an easy target for such attacks because we value life and have worked hard to preserve and protect its sanctity over the years. We've passed laws requiring that parents be notified and give consent before their minor daughters abort a child, ensuring parents will be involved and ready to provide much-needed guidance and advice at the most critical of moments.

We've funded and promoted alternatives to abortion, and provided counseling for women on these other options, including adoption, which - in addition to saving a child - is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give a waiting mother and father.

We also created a law that will prevent abortions in Texas until the mother has a sonogram, because we believe women deserve to have all the information before making such a life-ending decision.

At our nation's founding, the architects of our constitution clearly spelled out precisely which powers were enumerated to the federal government and left the rest - explicitly - to the states.

While Washington has steadily undermined and weakened the authority of states and local communities to govern themselves, it wasn't until the last few years when states - especially more conservative states - were actively targeted by a presidential administration.

The Obama Administration has seized control of Texas' air-permitting process, put radical new interpretations of the Clean Air Act into effect and, worst of all, imposed a health care mandate on individual citizens and state governments that threatens to bankrupt us all.

The Texas women who face the prospect of losing access to preventative health care are only the latest to be caught in the crossfire of the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to seize more control over the actions of every state, every town and every household.

Here in Texas, we will continue to fight back against all manner of federal encroachment into our lives, and any and all efforts to destroy or dilute the protections we've put in place for our unborn. President Obama, please abandon this misguided and unhealthy course of action and allow the Texas Women's Health Program to continue providing preventative health care and cancer screenings for Texas women.