Abortion giant Planned Parenthood has lost another chapter in its ongoing fight to force states to fund its existence against their will. A Texas judge ruled December 31 that the state can go ahead with its defunding of the nation's largest abortion provider, denying a temporary injunction that would have continued to provide funding to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion-related service.
This is the second time a judge has ruled against such an injunction. In August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an injunction imposed by a federal judge that would have allowed the state funding to continue pending the results of a lawsuit Planned Parenthood had filed to challenge the law. The defunding measure, passed by the state legislature in 2011 and implemented on January 1, blocks Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from receiving funds for “family planning” services dispersed through the state's Women's Health Program.
In response to the state measure, the Obama administration ordered the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to cut off funding of the Women's Health Program — around $9 for every $1 in state funds, effective January 1. Texas Gov. Rick Perry responded by saying that the state would tighten its belt and do without the estimated $30 million in federal funding the Women's Health Program was receiving.
According to the Dallas Morning News, critics of the defunding measure “believe the state program will not have enough providers without the Planned Parenthood clinics to serve the 130,000 low-income women who rely on the Women’s Health Program for annual checkups, cancer screenings and family planning.” But the state Health and Human Services Commission said that it had more than 3,500 non-abortion-related health providers that could handle the 50,000 or so low-income women who previously relied on Planned Parenthood for “family planning” services.
Following the ruling issued by Texas Judge Gary Harger, the state's Planned Parenthood CEO, Ken Lambrecht, declared that it was “shocking that once again Texas officials are letting politics jeopardize health care access for women.” Lambrecht claimed that the case “isn’t about Planned Parenthood — it’s about women ... who rely on us for basic, preventive health care.”
By contrast Gov. Perry applauded the ruling, noting that it “finally clears the way for thousands of low-income Texas women to access much-needed care, while at the same time respecting the values and laws of our state. I applaud all those who stand ready to help these women live healthy lives without sending taxpayer money to abortion providers and their affiliates.”
Lauren Bean, a spokesperson for the state attorney general's office, which is defending the measure against a series of lawsuits Planned Parenthood has filed, offered a prepared a statement after the ruling saying: “We are pleased the court rejected Planned Parenthood's latest attempt to skirt state law. The Texas Attorney General's office will continue to defend the Texas Legislature's decision to prohibit abortion providers and their affiliates from receiving taxpayer dollars through the Women's Health Program.”
Among the pro-life groups applauding the ruling was Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing a former Texas Planned Parenthood clinic director, Abby Johnson, who has charged that the abortion giant is guilty of defrauding the Texas Women’s Health Program of more than $5.7 million. ADF said that the case against Planned Parenthood of Southeast Texas represents just a fraction of more than $100 million in waste, fraud, and abuse the conservative legal advocacy group exposed in a report it presented to the U.S. Congress last February.
“Texans shouldn’t be forced to fund abortion industry giants like Planned Parenthood, so the court got this right,” said ADF Senior Counsel Mike Norton in response to the latest court ruling. “Texas law reserves taxpayer money for real healthcare for women and protects Texans from being financially coerced into abortion advocacy.” He added that women “deserve better than Big Abortion’s predatory business model and taxpayers deserve better than to be victims of Planned Parenthood’s waste and abuse of public dollars.”
Planned Parenthood has secured a hearing for January 11 in yet another attempt to initiate an emergency injunction that would allow it to continue to receive funding as its lawsuit wends its way through the legal system.