A federal court ruled on Monday that Texas cannot exclude Planned Parenthood from the state’s women’s health program. A group of eight Planned Parenthood organizations filed the lawsuit against the state of Texas in mid-April to prevent the state from excluding them from the program. In March, Governor Rick Perry implemented a rule that excludes affiliates of abortion providers from the Medicaid women’s health program, essentially cutting any government funding to Planned Parenthood. The eight Planned Parenthood organizations who filed the suit do not provide abortion services. In Monday’s ruling, Judge Lee Yeakel said that Texas’ law was unconstitutional because it excluded groups that are merely affiliated with abortion providers.

In his ruling, Judge Yeakel wrote, “the court is particularly influenced by the potential for immediate loss of access to necessary medical services by several thousand Texas women.” He also wrote that “federal funds available to the women’s health program are being phased out. 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.”

In a statement, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County, Patricio Gonzales, said, “Legal action is always a last resort, but the state and Governor Perry’s actions gave us no other option. The health and well-being of our patients is our number-one priority. We hope that this decision will allow us to continue our lifesaving work of providing high-quality health care and cancer screenings to some of Texas’ most vulnerable women.”

Judge Yeakel imposed a temporary injunction against the enforcement of the law. The lawsuit will now go to trial and a judge will hear full arguments.

MSNBC 5/1/12; Planned Parenthood Press Release 4/30/12; Huffington Post 4/30/12; Bloomberg 4/30/12; Feminist Daily News Wire 4/12/12

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