This feature offers the day’s most interesting and important story on nonprofits from the world’s media. For a full survey of media coverage of topics relating to nonprofits, philanthropy, volunteering, and civil society, go to the Hauser Center’s news blog, Nonprofit News & Comment.
The battles over the funding of reproductive services by Planned Parenthood and other nonprofits has raged through Congress and, more recently, moved on to the state legislatures which control the distribution of Medicare funds. This New York TImes editorial condemns the efforts of Texas to defund women’s health services in measures specifically targeting Planned Parenthood.
“In Texas, Don’t Even Mention Abortion.” Editorial. New York Times. August 23, 2012.
The Republican-controlled State Legislature in Texas and Gov. Rick Perry are perfectly willing to endanger the general health and welfare of low-income women to further their agenda of eroding abortion rights. And, now, a federal appeals court has given them a green light to do that, at least temporarily.
A federal district judge had placed an injunction on a state regulation that excludes Planned Parenthood affiliates, which do not provide abortions, from receiving state money through the Women’s Health Program pending the outcome of a lawsuit brought by the clinics. But the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit lifted that injunction on Tuesday.
It is impossible to overstate the callousness of the state regulation and the harm it will inflict. The program serves more than 100,000 uninsured, low-income women, with the federal government paying 90 percent of the roughly $40 million that it costs. The feds are now phasing out support because the rule violates federal law.
The lawsuit against the regulation was brought by nine Planned Parenthood clinics, which operate 49 health centers across Texas. These centers provide basic health services like cancer screening, contraceptive care and other services to more than 40 percent of the women in the program. None of these centers offer abortions because state law has long barred abortion providers and their affiliates from receiving public money.
To comply with that rule, these centers maintain strict legal and financial separation from Planned Parenthood entities that do perform abortions. But the new regulation, adopted this year, says this separation is not sufficient. It defines “affiliate” as any entity that shares a name or trademark with any organization that provides or “promotes” abortion. (In the lexicon of the anti-abortion right, just talking about abortion counts as promoting it.)
The clinics charged that the rule violated their free speech and free association rights and denied them equal protection. A federal district judge, Lee Yeakel, agreed, explaining that “government may not condition participation in a government program or receipt of a government benefit upon an applicant’s exercise of protected rights.” f He blocked the rule from taking effect, finding that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail.
The appeals court lifted the injunction with a muddled opinion that contends Texas does not violate the Constitution by disfavoring abortion or activities that promote abortion. Those activities are entirely legal, and, in any case, none of it applies to the health clinics.
Mr. Perry called the ruling “a win for Texas women.” Nothing could be further from the truth.