AUSTIN, Texas — A group of over 50 liberal clergy members have signed a letter calling upon the governor of Texas to restore Medicaid funding to the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
“We write as concerned faith leaders from diverse religious traditions and communities across Texas to protest the exclusion of Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding in our state,” the open letter to Gov. Greg Abbott reads.
It asserts that access to “reproductive health services is a moral and spiritual good,” and that women should make their own decisions about “reproductive healthcare.”
“The decision to end Medicaid funding to a reliable, trusted provider like Planned Parenthood undermines these values – and puts families in our state at risk,” the letter states. “We urge you to reinstate Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood so that the women, men and teens of Texas may have access to lifesaving health services.”
Signers include Larry Bethune of University Baptist Church in Austin, Valda Jean Combs of Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston, Tom Heger of Beacon Hill Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Richard Bates of Trinity United Methodist Church in Austin, Neil Cazarez-Thomas of United Church of Christ in Dallas, Ken Crawford of St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed United Church of Christ in Dallas and Laura Harari of Temple Rodef Shalom in Waco.
As previously reported, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission sent a letter to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in October, providing the entity with a notice of termination of its Medicaid contract.
“[T]here is reliable information indicating a pattern of illegal billing practices by Planned Parenthood affiliates, including you, across the state,” the letter read. “Our prima facie case of fraud is supported by related cases involving fraudulent practices identified by whistleblowers from inside the Texas Planned Parenthood network.”
It asserted that the organization also violated safety protocols surrounding the spread of infectious diseases, as it allegedly “allowed individuals posing as commercial buyers of fetal body parts to handle bloody fetal tissue while wearing only gloves.”
Planned Parenthood then sued Texas officials for terminating the organization’s Medicaid contract.
“By cancelling Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract, these politicians are telling women where they can and cannot go for reproductive healthcare,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America told reporters last month, asserting that the termination was illegal.
Richards is the daughter of Ann Richards, who was the Democratic governor of Texas from 1991 to 1995.
But Gov. Abbott welcomed the lawsuit. He had stated prior to the filing that he hoped Planned Parenthood would bring a legal challenge so that he could place officials under oath and get to the truth.
“I hope for a legal challenge here because I want to put these Planned Parenthood officials under oath and get them to swear about the practices that they were conducting in the state of Texas. Either, their horrific practices will be revealed or they may be found in violation of laws for perjury,” he told Fox News. “Texas does have hard evidence showing Medicaid fraud.”