Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for life — which is backing a proposal to ban abortion beginning at fertilization (Texas law bans abortions after 20 weeks) — argues that Planned Parenthood places women on a pathway that, for many, ultimately leads to abortion.
Although “it’s difficult to make a causal relationship,” Pojman argues that many women seeking pregnancy-related services at Planned Parenthood are ultimately getting referred to Planned Parenthood abortion facilities.
“There’s definitely referrals going on,” he said. “That’s certainly part of Planned Parenthood’s practices — is to refer women for abortions.”
And women who are seeking non-pregnancy related health services build a “client relationship” with Planned Parenthood. Then, if those women later become pregnant, Pojman said, “they know who to call.”
“A woman searching for breast or cervical cancer screening or high blood pressure screening, if they do a pregnancy test on her and she’s positive, then they’d do a referral to their abortion facility,” he said.
However, because medical referral information is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Pojman said he hasn’t seen any records showing this connection.
“It’s reasonable to believe that fewer women going to Planned Parenthood facilities for any reason will likely result in fewer abortions,” he said.
Planned Parenthood spokesperson Sarah Wheat says that none of these claims have factual basis. A standard component of family planning services is providing nondirective pregnancy counseling, Wheat said. All patients are informed of all of their legal and medical options.
“Providing patients with referrals for all of their medical options is not unique to Planned Parenthood,” Wheat said.
Furthermore, Pojman’s argument ignores the fact that many women rely on Planned Parenthood to obtain contraception and avoid unwanted pregnancies, said Aiken. According to Planned Parenthood’s own data, 82,400 Texas women received birth control through Planned Parenthood last year.
Abortion referrals “seems to be exactly what would be precipitated by kicking Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid,” Aiken said. “If there are no Medicaid funds to help low-income patients get contraception, I would imagine that more abortion referrals would be necessary precisely because of the lack of funding.”
Healthy Texas Women
Pojman said Texas’ own family planning services program could easily absorb the 8,800 Planned Parenthood Medicaid patients.
Created by the Legislature, Healthy Texas Women launched in 2016 to provide family planning and health care services to low-income women. It served 173,000 women in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.