Texas Excludes Planned Parenthood, Group wins Temporary Restraining Order Reversing Decision

On Thursday, October 25th 2012, the State of Texas won an important court victory in its efforts to exclude Planned Parenthood from participating in the Texas Women’s Health Program.

On Friday, October 26th 2012, Planned Parenthood won a temporary restraining order, effectively preventing the State of Texas from dropping Planned Parenthood from its Texas Women’s Health Program.

Texas District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum granted the order in state court, and a trial date has been set for November 8th to rule on Planned Parenthoods assertion that Texas’ exclusion of Planned Parenthood from the Women’s Health Program is erroneous under Texas State Law.

The legislation in question, a law passed by Texas late last year, was an attempt by Texas legislators to exclude all abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from participating in the Women’s Health Program. Upon passage of the bill, Texas defunded Planned Parenthood, and all other groups like it.

But in December 2011, the Federal Government, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(HHS) sent a letter to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, discrediting the Texas law, and in the process, denied the states application to run its own family planning services. Then in March of 2012, HHS discontinued federal funding of the Texas program because it excluded Planned Parenthood and others like it. The State lost 30 million dollars in the process.

Planned Parenthood then filed suit, contending the new law excluding organizations that provided abortion services constituted “Unconstitutional Discrimination.” In April 2012 a judge granted Planned Parenthood a preliminary injunction against implementation of the law, while their lawsuit against the proposed law moved forward.

Then in August 2012, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the April 2012 ruling, and the Federal Government denied the funding. Judge Lee Yeakel prohibited the law from taking effect, and the Texas AG appealed the prohibition, which was then removed by the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals.

Planned Parenthoods lawsuit claims that the State of Texas’ “Affiliate Ban Rule” creates an “inoperative” proviso if it causes Texas to lose federal matching funds, and is invalidated by the Texas Human Resources Code if it causes the Women’s Health Program to lose Federal Funding.

The Women’s Health Program had been 90% federally funded, and 50% of the 130,000 low income women receiving services from the program had done so through Planned Parenthood.

The program provides preventative health care and contraceptive services to low income women statewide.

Article by Jim Donahue

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