Texas Supreme Court Rules Against Medicaid Funding for Abortions

The Texas Supreme Court on December 31 ruled 8-0 that state denial of funding for abortions for poor women with pregnancies that are risky or damaging to their health is not a violation of the Texas Constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment and equal protection provisions, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The American-Statesman went on to say that the court, in fact, admitted that state refusal to pay for abortions under such conditions denies low-income women equal protection of the law by treating “indigent women seeking abortions differently from all others,” but that the government has a legitimate interest in favoring childbirth and could pursue policies that discourage abortion.

The Texas Supreme Court also acknowledged in their decision that “some of these conditions can, if the pregnancy is not terminated, cause a woman to suffer strokes, severe bleeding disorders, eye disease, heart failure, renal function deterioration, seizures and accelerated growth of breast cancer tumors,” reported the American-Statesman. “They have found it constitutional for the state to prefer childbearing over abortion even if the result is to jeopardize the woman’s health and ultimately harm her ability to care for her family,” Kae McLaughlin, executive director of the Texas Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League said to the American-Statesman.

One of the Texas Supreme Court Justices that took part in this ruling was Justice Priscilla Owen, a Bush nominee to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals who was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee in September. Owen was renominated by President Bush today.

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Austin American-Statesman 1/1/03; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 1/2/03; The Houston Chronicle 1/4/03; Feminist Daily News Wire 9/5/02

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