In a unanimous decision, a federal court on Tuesday lifted an injunction that protected Planned Parenthood from a Texas law that bars state funds from organizations that perform or promote abortion.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who backed the law, said Aug. 21 the decision is “a win for Texas women, our rule of law and our state’s priority to protect life.”
Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Steven H. Aden also praised the decision in an Aug. 22 statement, saying it shows “abortionists and their political allies are bluffing when they say that states cannot stop taxpayer funding from being used to subsidize abortions, whether directly or indirectly.”
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans lifted a federal district court’s temporary injunction that preserved state funding before an October trial in which Planned Parenthood intends to challenge the law, the Associated Press reported.
The court decision said the district court “gave insufficient attention to Texas’s authority to subsidize speech of its choosing within its programs.”
The funds concern the Texas Women’s Health Program, which provides services to many women not qualified through Medicaid. The program previously funded Planned Parenthood’s provision of family planning and health services to poor women. About 65,000 women of the 130,000 enrolled in the program secured services through the abortion provider, though state funds were not used for abortion.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, said the legal case is “about the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control and well-woman exams.
However, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot said Aug. 21 that the decision “rightfully recognized that the taxpayer-funded Women's Health Program is not required to subsidize organizations that advocate for elective abortion.”
He said his office is “encouraged” by the decision and will continue to defend the Women’s Health Program in court.
State-level efforts to defund abortion providers have increased in recent years. However, they have faced significant legal and regulatory obstacles as well as interference and threats from pro-abortion rights officials in the federal government.
In December 2011 the Obama administration threatened to deny federal funding to the Texas women’s health program if the law stood.
A similar defunding effort in New Hampshire that threatened $1.8 million in funding for Planned Parenthood caused the Department of Health and Human Services to say it would give a federal grant to the abortion provider.
In July 2012 a federal official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Chicago reaffirmed that an Indiana law barring Medicaid funds to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood is unacceptable on the grounds that it denies women the freedom to choose their health care providers, according to the Associated Press.