In support of its motion to stay a district court order requiring the state of Texas to continue funding Planned Parenthood Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot argued the women’s health care provider is, essentially, a terrorist organization.
“Planned Parenthood does not provide any assurance that the tax subsidies it receives from the Women’s Health Program have not been used directly or indirectly to subsidize its advocacy of elective abortion,” Abbott wrote in his motion to stay the injunction. “Nor is it possible for Planned Parenthood to provide this assurance.”
“Money is fungible, and taxpayer subsidies — even if ‘earmarked’ for nonabortion activities — free up other resources for Planned Parenthood to spend on its mission to promote elective abortions … (because ‘[m]oney is fungible,’ First Amendment does not prohibit application of federal material-support statute to individuals who give money to ‘humanitarian’ activities performed by terrorist organizations).”
By invoking the federal material-support statute, which makes it a felony to give money to a terrorist organization, even if the funds are specified for nonterrorist activities, the state of Texas has formally introduced for “serious” legal debate the idea that supporting health care organizations that provide reproductive health care services is equivalent to supporting terrorists.
Abbot is playing a dangerous game here. Either he truly believes Planned Parenthood and its supporters are terrorists and terrorist-sympathizers, in which case they could face prosecution under the material support statute, or Abbot is purely playing politics. And if that is the case, not only is that ethically suspect, it is actually endangering the lives of the nearly 130,000 low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screens and family planning services.
The 5th Circuit will issue a final ruling on the stay but it is likely to affirm, meaning that for the foreseeable future poor women in Texas will be left with little in the way of access to reliable and affordable health care.
Photo from Manu_H via flickr.