Judge To Texas: No, You Can't Defund Planned Parenthood

Posted: Feb 21, 2017 9:40 PM

If the Lone Star State wants to mount a concerted effort to successfully defund Planned Parenthood, it won't be easy. A district judge filed an injunction on efforts to cut off Medicaid dollars to the abortion provider. Pressure has been building on Planned Parenthood since 2015 when a series of investigative videos were released alleging the organization profited off of selling aborted baby parts (via AP):

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Texas can't cut off Medicaid dollars to Planned Parenthood over secretly recorded videos taken by anti-abortion activists in 2015 that launched Republican efforts across the U.S. to defund the nation's largest abortion provider.

An injunction issued by U.S. District Sam Sparks of Austin comes after he delayed making decision in January and essentially bought Planned Parenthood an extra month in the state's Medicaid program.

Texas is now at least the sixth state where federal courts have kept Planned Parenthood eligible for Medicaid reimbursements for non-abortion services, although a bigger question remains over whether President Donald Trump will federally defund the organization.

Sparks' decision preserves what Planned Parenthood says are cancer screenings, birth control access and other health services for nearly 11,000 low-income women at 30 clinics. Texas originally intended to boot Planned Parenthood in January but Sparks told the state to wait pending his ruling. Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Louisiana have also had similar efforts blocked.

The Associated Press added that the judge slammed the evidence presented as more in line with a best-selling novel rather than “a case concerning the interplay of federal and state authority through the Medicaid program.” The Hill added the legal battle began when Gov. Greg Abbott signaled the he would be going after Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid dollars after the videos were released. Attorney General Ken Paxton plans to file an appeal:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said his office would appeal Tuesday's ruling, saying "the decision is disappointing and flies in the face of basic human decency," according to Reuters.

The decision continues a long-running legal saga in the state.

State health officials had announced in December that Planned Parenthood would no longer receive funding from Texas’s Medicaid program. Officials gave the group 30 days before the change took effect unless Planned Parenthood filed an appeal.

Planned Parenthood originally filed a lawsuit a year ago to try blocking Texas from stripping its Medicaid funding, but the lawsuit sat idle before the state issued its final legal notice.