Texas Planned Parenthood organizations won a bid to block a rule barring them from participating in a state-funded women’s health program because they advocate for access to abortions.
The organizations sued Texas April 11 to block the rule, which prohibits the Texas Health and Human Services Commission from contracting with entities affiliated with abortion providers. The rule was designed to exclude the operators of 49 health centers from the program after April 30. Planned Parenthood argued the rule is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin wrote in today’s ruling that the court is “particularly influenced by the potential for immediate loss of access to necessary medical services by several thousand Texas women.”
“Federal funds available to the Women’s Health Program are being phased out,” Yeakel wrote. “Although the governor has instructed that the program is to continue fully funded by Texas, the current record gives the court no comfort that funds are or will be available to continue the program after the phase out of federal funds.”
The case pits Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, against President Barack Obama, a Democrat, over a state ban on aid to abortion providers or their affiliates. The nonprofit Planned Parenthood organizations care for almost half of the state program’s 130,000 participants.
Perry pledged last month to replace almost $30 million in federal funds for the women’s health program that the Obama administration cut off because of the state ban. Obama has said Texas can’t block federally approved organizations such as Planned Parenthood from participating in programs underwritten by Medicaid, which pays for health services for the poor.
The case is Planned Parenthood of Hidalgo County Texas v. Suehs, 12-00322, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).
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