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Health

Texas Officials Block Donations To Planned Parenthood From State Employee Paychecks

A Planned Parenthood sign.
Martin do Nascimento
/
KUT

Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas have been told they can no longer receive charitable donations directly from state employee paychecks.

For at least the past decade, state employees could donate to the chain of women’s health care clinics through the State Employee Charitable Campaign, which automatically deducts the money from their paychecks.

Officials with the campaign asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton if Senate Bill 22, which prohibits local governments from contracting with abortion providers or their affiliates, disqualifies Planned Parenthood from getting donations.

Last week, Paxton said yes.

In his opinion, he wrote that state law “prohibits the State Employee Charitable Campaign and its Policy Committee from entering into a taxpayer resource transaction with an abortion provider or an affiliate of an abortion provider.” He said the program “constitutes a taxpayer resource transaction.”

Sarah Wheat, chief external affairs officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas in Austin, said her organization was notified by the State Employee Charitable Campaign on Friday that they are ineligible for the program moving forward.

“We are concerned that this is a huge overreach on the part of Attorney General Paxton," Wheat said, "and it follows year after year of statewide elected officials trying to find new ways to block resources and funding for Planned Parenthood health centers and essential health care and education services."

Dan Quinn, a spokesperson with the Texas Freedom Network, said Paxton's opinion is on shaky legal ground.

“It certainly raises First Amendment concerns here,” he said. “The state has no business regulating the charitable decisions employees make with their own money.”

The decision sets up another big financial blow to Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state.

Wheat said Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas alone receives roughly $180,000 a year from the campaign.

She said her group is considering legal options to fight the decision.

“We want to protect the right of state employees to donate to Planned Parenthood if that is their choice,” Wheat said.

Got a tip? Email Ashley at alopez@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.

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