Just on the heels of the federal government's [obligatory] decision to pull its funding from Texas' Medicaid Women's Health Program after Gov. Slick Rick Perry prevented Planned Parenthood clinics from also receiving some of that federal scratch, the Texas attorney general on Friday filed suit against the Obama administration, challenging its decision to withhold the $35 million that keeps the Texas women's program afloat.
Texas Republican officials and the Obama administration have both expressed regret that the dispute between Texas and the federal government will ultimately hurt upwards of 130,000 poor women in the state who depend on those clinics most imperiled by the funding dispute, but Rick Perry is adamant that he will both have his cake and eat it too. Said Perry, "This is about life and the rule of law, which Texas respects and the Obama administration does not." Here, here, guv'nah! Except that, of course, the tenuous state of health services for the state's low-income female residents is sort of Perry's fault in the first place, since he signed off on a bill back in 2011 to restrict the flow of federal dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics because they're supposedly using state and federal money to provide abortions (they aren't). Perry made that bullheaded decision in spite of the fact that the federal government is bound by Medicaid law, which states, according to the White House, that "a state may not restrict patients' choice of providers of services like mammograms and other cancer screenings, if those providers are qualified to deliver care covered by Medicaid." Never mind all that, though — those are simply facts, which present only minor obstacles in Perry's train of illogical thought.
Texas' lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas a day after the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid services announced that it would start shutting down the state's Women's Health Program. The lawsuit claims that, in addition to arbitrarily and capriciously cutting services to more than 100,000 of the state's poorest women, this decision "also violates the Constitution of the United States by seeking to commandeer and coerce the states' lawmaking processes into awarding taxpayer subsidies to elective abortion providers." Perry has assured residents that he will continue the health program, federal funding be damned, but it's unlikely that this could ever happen, as the big, bad wolves in Washington paid almost 90 percent of the program's entire costs.
The Texas attorney general seeks a declaration from a judge that Texas can place restrictions on abortion funding, though this is not so much a real issue as a theoretical one. That is, anti-abortion crusaders in the Texas legislature might have something to nervously knead their ten-gallon hats about if either federal or state funds were being used to fund abortions, but they're not. Moreover, the vacuum of federal money gives the small-government lip service Republicans exactly what they claim to have always wanted: more state authority. Now Rick Perry and state Republican lawmakers are free to alienate as much of their constituency as they want before the next election cycle.