Court Rules Texas Can Defund Planned Parenthood

A federal court ruled on Tuesday in favor of Texas, allowing the state to move forward in banning government funding for Planned Parenthood under the Texas Women’s Health 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.

Although Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, the Texas Women’s Health Program does not pay for abortions. This means participating Texas Planned Parenthood clinics do not provide the procedure. After the ruling was announced, Texas officials said Planned Parenthood’s funds under the Women’s Health Program will be cut off immediately.

This issue has pitted the Republican-dominated Texas government against the Obama administration. Following the implementation of the funding restrictions in March, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the federal government will not renew funding through the Medicaid family planning program for the state of Texas. Officials at the Medicaid federal agency said that states are not allowed to restrict patient’s access to particular providers and still receive federal funding. 90 percent of the funding for the program came from the federal government, but Texas plans to move forward with the ban and without funding from the federal government.

“We are evaluating every possible option to protect women’s health in Texas. This case has never been about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said in a statement. “For nearly 100 years, women and families have trusted Planned Parenthood for high-quality, affordable health care and information. We won’t let politics interfere with the health care that nearly three million people a year rely on Planned Parenthood for in Texas and around the country. Planned Parenthood health center doors are open today and they’ll be open tomorrow.”

The Texas Women’s Health Program currently serves 100,000 low income women with Planned Parenthood as its largest provider, serving about 40% of its patients. Planned Parenthood said in a statement that the ruling will put the health of approximately 52,000 Texas women at risk.

Media Resources: AP 8/22/12; CNN 8/22/12; Reuters 8/21/12; Planned Parenthood Statement 8/21/12

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