The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans Tuesday (Aug. 21) lifted a preliminary injunction issued in April by a federal judge that had blocked implementation of the 2011 law. The measure prohibits the state from contracting under the Texas Medicaid Women's Health Program with organizations that "perform or promote elective abortions or affiliate with entities that perform or promote elective abortions."
Planned Parenthood failed to show it is "likely to succeed in demonstrating that the ... restriction on promoting elective abortions violates their First Amendment rights," the Fifth Circuit, three-judge panel ruled. The judges returned the case to the federal court for consideration.
The ban reportedly affects only Planned Parenthood. More than 1,000 health-care providers certified for the program are not affiliated with abortion clinics, according to the Texas Alliance for Life.
In March, the Obama administration announced it would not grant a waiver to the women's health program because of the ban on Planned Parenthood, thereby ending federal funding for services to about 130,000 women. The federal government provides about 90 percent of the money for the program.
In response, Gov. Rick Perry said he plans for the state to make up the funding difference left by the federal government's withdrawal.
Perry welcomed the Fifth Circuit decision, saying it "is a win for Texas women, our rule of law and our state's priority to protect life."
"Texas will continue providing important health services for women through this program in spite of the Obama Administration's disregard for our state law and unilateral decision to defund this program," Perry said.
Pro-life advocates applauded the ruling as well.
"Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortions or abortion advocacy," said Steven Aden, senior counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom. "The court's decision against the position of Planned Parenthood and the Obama administration again demonstrates that abortionists and their political allies are bluffing when they say that states cannot stop taxpayer funding from being used to subsidize abortions, whether directly or indirectly."
Planned Parenthood decried the Fifth Circuit action.
"It is shocking that once again it appears that politics is getting in the way of women receiving access to basic health care," said Melaney Linton, president of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
Affiliates of the Planned Parenthood Federal of America (PPFA) reported performing 329,445 abortions in 2010, again making PPFA America's No. 1 abortion provider. PPFA and its affiliates received $487.4 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements in 2009-10, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
The unanimous ruling was handed down by nominees of Presidents Reagan (E. Grady Jolly), George H.W. Bush (Harold R. DeMoss Jr.) and Clinton (Carl E. Stewart). Stewart concurred only in the judgment.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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