Planned Parenthood claims in a federal lawsuit that a Texas law banning it from a federally funded state health program is unconstitutional, according to the Austin American-Statesman
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Austin, seeks to overturn legislation adopted earlier this year that bans abortion providers from participating in the Texas Women’s Health Program, which is funded through the federal Medicaid program.
Planned Parenthood argues the law violates its clinics’ First Amendment freedoms of speech and association because of their relationship with the nation’s largest abortion provider.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of nine affiliates, which operate 49 clinics in Texas. It noted that 40 percent of the 130,000 program patients seek treatment through the clinics.
“This rule unfairly punishes tens of thousands of women who rely on and chose Planned Parenthood centers,” Patricio Gonzalez, head of the Hidalgo County affiliate, told the newspaper.
Gonzalez noted that in addition to abortions, its clinics also provide contraceptives, and screenings for cancer, hypertension, sexually transmitted infections, and other conditions.
Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said the state “is under no obligation to provide taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood.”
“Texas law has been very clear from day one of this program that abortion providers and their affiliates, like Planned Parenthood, are not qualified providers,” she said.
After the Texas law was adopted, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the state it was going to cut off funding altogether for the program, which receives about 90 percent of its budget from the federal government.
Perry has promised to find state money to continue the program without federal involvement.
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