TX Clinics Win Short-Term Victory Against Efforts to Limit Choice

Texas clinics received a temporary reprieve last Monday from state health officials’ demand that they promise, in writing, to stop performing abortions or face the loss of all public funding. Federal District Judge Sam Sparks granted a temporary restraining order against the Texas Department of Health (TDH), which had demanded signed pledges from clinics by 5 p.m. on June 30, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The restraining order exempts the organizations from submitting the pledges for now, and a hearing scheduled for July 25 will determine whether the order will stay in place permanently, the Star-Telegram reported.

Six Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas filed suit against the state on June 26, claiming that TDH’s demand and Rider 8, the law that requires the pledge, illegally punish clinics for providing abortions, the Austin Chronicle reported. If the law is upheld, Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates will lose $13 million, most of which they would have spent on providing preventive and routine care, like mammograms and Pap smears, to low-income women, according to the Chronicle. “The funds affected by Rider 8 are not used to provide abortion,” said Peter Durkin, chief executive of Planned Parenthood’s Houston clinic, according to the Daily Texan . “The money is used to prevent abortion through education and providing access to contraception. It is also used to provide medical services that keep these women healthy.”

Rider 8 is only one of several anti-choice measures passed in the recent Texas legislative session. And Texas is not the only state that has attempted to deprive Planned Parenthood of funding. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Missouri’s law withholding state funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates there, according to the Texan. But Planned Parenthood’s attorney, Jim George, points out that the Texas law interferes with federal funding as well, which is unconstitutional, reports the Texan.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram 6/27/03, 6/30/03; Austin Chronicle 7/4/03; Daily Texan 6/27/03

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