In the 3rd ruling in this case in a week, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that Texas cannot exclude Planned Parenthood from its state women’s health program, pending the hearing of formal arguments. The most recent ruling reversed an emergency stay issued earlier last week that allowed Texas to ban funding. The three-judge panel agreed with District Court Judge Lee Yeakel, whose initial ruling in the case a week ago had imposed a temporary injunction against the enforcement of the law. Less than 24 hours after Yeakel’s ruling, Judge Jerry Smith of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals issued an emergency stay, giving Texas the right to enforce its law that would cut off funding to Planned Parenthood in the state.
At question is a rule implemented by Governor Rick Perry in March, that states that affiliates of abortion providers are ineligible to participate in the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program. Eight Planned Parenthood affiliates, none of which perform abortions, sued Texas over the law in mid-April.
In response to Friday’s ruling, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards told the Associated Press, “This case isn’t about Planned Parenthood; it’s about the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams…We won’t let politics interfere with the health care that nearly 3 million people a year rely on Planned Parenthood for in Texas and around the country.”
A court filing by Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell indicated the state would cut all women’s health program funds of federal courts order Texas to allow Planned Parenthood to receive funding. The motion states, “State law prohibits Texas from continuing to operate the Texas Women’s Program if taxpayer money must be provided to entities that affiliate with abortion-promoting entities…Consequently, the district court’s preliminary injunction effectively forces Texas to choose between contravening state law and shutting down the program.”
Associated Press 5/4/2012; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/1/2012, 5/2/2012