Federal Appeals Court Reviews Texas Law Barring Planned Parenthood Funding

June 8, 2012 — An attorney representing Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas on Thursday urged a federal appeals court to uphold an injunction against a state law that excludes affiliates of abortion providers from participating in the state's Women's Health Program, the AP/Austin American-Statesman reports.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from both sides of the case but did not indicate when it would rule.

Planned Parenthood's Arguments

Planned Parenthood argued that barring its affiliates from the Women's Health Program would impede care for women at the group's clinics, which serve nearly half of the program's more than 100,000 enrollees. They also said the law violates the clinics' First Amendment rights to speech and association.

Helene Krasnoff, the attorney for the organization, noted that the eight clinics in question are legally and financially separate from those that offer abortion services, although they share office space. Two of the judges questioned Krasnoff about that arrangement. "The rule doesn't talk about physical separation," she replied, adding, "It has nothing to do with facilities."

State's Arguments

Texas Assistant Solicitor General Kristofer Monson argued that the state has a right to prevent groups affiliated with abortion providers from participating in the program.

He said the clinics are considered affiliated with an abortion provider because they use the Planned Parenthood registered service mark. They could continue participating in the WHP if they dropped Planned Parenthood from their names, he said. But, according to Krasnoff, that is not what the rule says (Kunzelman, AP/Austin American-Statesman, 6/7).