Clergy Sign Open Letter as Federal Judge Prepares to Hear Lawsuit over Medicaid Funding Ban for Health Care Services at Planned Parenthood Clinics

December 10, 2015

Clergy from diverse faith traditions across Texas are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to stop interfering with the freedom of women to see providers of their choice for health screenings, family planning and other reproductive health care services.

“Women have a moral and legal right to decide for themselves which health care providers they will see,” said the Rev. Valda Jean Combs, an associate minister at Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston. “As faith leaders in our communities, we cannot be silent when politicians interfere with that freedom and risk leaving vulnerable women without access to the basic care they need and deserve.”

Combs is one of more than 50 faith leaders who have signed on to an open letter to Gov. Abbott on the issue. Today’s public release of the letter, which is available at, comes as Gov. Abbott tries to enforce a ban on Medicaid funding for health care services provided at Planned Parenthood clinics. Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit challenging the funding ban. An initial hearing in the federal court case is pending.

Gov. Abbott and other Republican officials have sought to “defund” Planned Parenthood services because the organization provides abortions. But the law already bars the use of government funding for abortion.

Gov. Abbott’s Medicaid funding ban is simply another example of politicians treating reproductive health care as nonessential and unimportant to the physical and economic well-being of women, said Amelia Fulbright, another letter signer and a Baptist minister who founded and leads Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry at the University of Texas at Austin.

 “Ensuring that everyone has access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, including affordable family planning and safe, legal abortion care, is a moral and social good,” Fulbright said. “But every year in Texas we see more efforts to limit that access by cutting funding, restricting providers and enacting medically unnecessary requirements that shut down clinics.”

Combs and Fulbright are on the advisory committee for Just Texas (, a grassroots movement of faith leaders who support comprehensive reproductive health care for all and who believe reproductive justice demands respect of individual conscience and religious freedom. Just Texas is a project of the Texas Freedom Network.


The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support religious freedom, individual liberties and public education.