Appeals Court Says Planned Parenthood Can Be Banned From the Women's Health Program, Rick Perry Rejoices
An April rally for women's healthcare at the state capitol building
Texas' game of women's health pingpong continues. A panel of judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a preliminary injunction yesterday that had allowed Planned Parenthood to remain in the Medicaid Women's Health Program. In other words, PP is out. Again. The nonprofit was booted from the WHP back in early May and then allowed back in by 5th Circuit judges, all in the space of one week.
Yesterday's decision, written by Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly, ruled that Texas can bar entities that "promote abortion" from receiving WHP funds under the logic that Texas can "subsidize speech of its choosing" within its programs, even though the current WHP is paid for with mostly federal money. Planned Parenthood's health clinics taking part in the current lawsuit, the judge wrote, "engage in abortion advocacy and ha[ve] some legal relationship with Planned Parenthood Federation of America." The health clinics, which don't provide abortions, were receiving the funds, while PP's surgical centers, which do provide abortions, have never received WHP money.
Planned Parenthood is suing Texas to remain permanently in the Women's Health Program. Texas, meanwhile, is pledging to create an entirely state-funded program, one that explicitly bars Planned Parenthood in its entirety as an "abortion affiliate." PP's ultimate fate won't be decided until October or so, when the case is ruled on in district court. But for now, low-income women who use Planned Parenthood (some 40 percent of all women in the Women's Health Program) will have to find other healthcare providers.
Governor Rick Perry responded quickly. His office issued a statement, which reads, in full:
"Today's ruling affirms that Texas' Women's Health Program has no obligation to fund organizations that promote abortion -- including Planned Parenthood. The 5th Circuit's decision is a win for Texas women, our rule of law and our state's priority to protect life. We will continue to work with Attorney General Abbott in the fight to defend our state laws.
"Texas will 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."
Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards put out her own statement, which said that PPFA is "evaluating every possible option to protect women's health in Texas. This case has never been about Planned Parenthood -- it's about the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams."
Richards called it "shocking that politics would get in the way of women receiving access to basic health care."
"Planned Parenthood health center doors are open today," she added. "And they'll be open tomorrow."