Judge Allows Planned Parenthood To Stay in Texas Program for Now After New Lawsuit Filed

October 29, 2012 — A Texas state judge on Friday granted a temporary restraining order that allows Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas to continue participating in the state's Women's Health Program for the time being, the Texas Tribune reports (Rocha, Texas Tribune, 10/26).

The judge's order came in response to a second lawsuit PPGT filed to challenge the state's plan to exclude affiliates of abortion providers from WHP. The suit was filed in state court one day after a federal appeals court declined PPGT's request to reconsider a ruling that allowed Texas to proceed with the ban (Wisniewski/MacLaggan, Reuters, 10/26). After that decision, Gov. Rick Perry (R) said the state would immediately stop payments to WHP participants that are affiliated with abortion providers (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/26).

Despite the restraining order, Texas officials said they will move forward with plans to launch a state-funded WHP on Nov. 1 that excludes affiliates of abortion providers (Texas Tribune, 10/26). The federal government, which had covered 90% of the cost of the program, is ending its financial support because of the state's decision to exclude qualified providers (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/26).

New Arguments

The new suit argues that the "Affiliate Ban Rule" that bars PPGT's participation is invalid under Chapter 32 (HR 32) of the Texas human resources code, which makes the program subject to federal government approval. Planned Parenthood in a statement said, "This chapter makes any provision 'inoperative' if it causes Texas to lose federal matching funds for the Women's Health Program" (Texas Tribune, 10/26).

A trial is set for Nov. 8 before District Judge Amy Clark Meachum (Scharrer, San Antonio Express-News, 10/27).

The Hill Examines State-Level Efforts To Defund Planned Parenthood

In related news, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports that efforts by conservative state lawmakers to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood largely have been unsuccessful.

Six states have passed laws aimed at eliminating federal funding that flows through states to the organization. In each case, courts have blocked all or parts of the laws (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/27).