May 2, 2012 — Fifth Circuit Appeals Judge Jerry Smith on Tuesday reversed a lower court's ruling and allowed Texas to exclude Planned Parenthood from the state's Medicaid Women's Health Program, Reuters reports (MacLaggan, Reuters, 5/1). Less than 24 hours before, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel had issued a temporary injunction to block Texas from enforcing the law, which prohibits organizations affiliated with abortion providers from receiving state funds through the program (Tomlinson, AP/Yahoo! News, 5/1).
The case was filed by several Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state, who argued in a hearing last week that the health care of 40,000 women would be disrupted if the judge did not stop the law from taking effect. They said the law violates their freedom of speech and association (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/1).
Emergency Stay Granted
On Monday, state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) requested an emergency stay of the injunction, arguing that the state would be forced to shut down the program if it is required to fund "entities that affiliate with abortion-promoting entities," which would violate state law. Smith granted the stay "pending further order of [the] court" and asked for a response from Planned Parenthood (Fikac/Ackerman, Houston Chronicle, 5/1).
Stephanie Goodman, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, on Tuesday said the stay allows the agency to exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from the program immediately. She suggested that women who have trouble locating a health care provider contact the agency (AP/Yahoo! News, 5/1).
Planned Parenthood on Tuesday said it will continue to care for patients enrolled in the program. "We don't want to cause any more confusion or fear than the state has already caused Texas women," Sarah Wheat, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood in Austin, said (Reuters, 5/1).