August 22, 2012 — The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday lifted a temporary injunction against a Texas law that bars affiliates of abortion providers from participating in the state's Women's Health Program, the AP/New York Times reports. The decision allows the state to block funding for Planned Parenthood clinics at least until a district court hearing in October on the organization's challenge to the law.
Planned Parenthood provides cancer screenings and other preventive care to about half of the 130,000 Texas women who are enrolled in the program, which provides services to low-income women who normally would not qualify for Medicaid (AP/New York Times, 8/21).
Prior to the new law, WHP received 90% of its funding from the federal government, but HHS has started cutting off the funding because federal law guarantees that Medicaid beneficiaries have the right to choose their own health care providers (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/7).
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has said the state will use its own money to fund the program. State health officials have warned that ending the program would lead to more unplanned pregnancies and cost Texas more than self-financing the program (AP/New York Times, 8/21).
Response to Ruling
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will move to enforce the funding ban "as quickly as possible," according to spokesperson Stephanie Goodman.
In an emailed statement, Perry called the ruling "a win for Texas women, our rule of law and our state's priority to protect life." He said the state would continue providing "important health services for women through this program in spite of the Obama administration's disregard for our state law and unilateral decision to defund this program."
In a statement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said, "It is shocking that politics would get in the way of women receiving access to basic health care." She said the organization is "evaluating every possible option to protect women's health in Texas" (Tan, Texas Tribune, 8/21).