Texas judge OKs ban on Planned Parenthood reimbursements forbasic health care
AUSTIN — Texas can cut off funding to Planned Parenthood's family planning programs for poor women, a state judge ruled on Monday.
Judge Gary Harger said that Texas may exclude otherwise qualified doctors and clinics from receiving state funding if they advocate for abortion rights.
The state has long banned the use of state funds for abortion, but continued to reimburse Planned Parenthood clinics for providing basic health care to poor women through the state's Women's Health Program. The program provides check-ups and birth control to 110,000 poor women a year, and Planned Parenthood clinics were treating 48,000 of them.
Planned Parenthood's lawsuit to stop the rule will go forward, but the judge decided on Monday that the ban may go into effect for now. In seeking a temporary restraining order, Planned Parenthood's patients could have continued to visit their current doctors until a final decision was made.
“We are pleased the court rejected Planned Parenthood's latest attempt to skirt state law,” said Lauren Bean, spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's office. “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.”
Ken Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said he brought the lawsuit on behalf of poor women who depend on its clinics.
“It is shocking that once again Texas officials are letting politics jeopardize health care access for women,” Lambrecht said. “Our doors remain open today and always to Texas women in need. We only wish Texas politicians shared this commitment to Texas women, their health and their well-being.”
Planned Parenthood has filed three lawsuits over Texas' so-called “affiliate rule,” arguing it violates the constitutional rights of doctors and patients and contradicts state law.
Republican lawmakers who passed the affiliate rule last year argued that Texas is an anti-abortion state and therefore should cut off funds to groups that support abortion rights. Gov. Rick Perry, who vehemently opposes abortion, has pledged to do everything legally possible to shut down Planned Parenthood in Texas and welcomed the court's ruling.
“Today's ruling 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,” Perry said.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has spent the last nine months preparing to implement the affiliate rule. But federal officials warned it violated the Social Security Act and cut off federal funds for the Women's Health Program, prompting the commission to start a program using only state money.
State officials have scrambled to sign up doctors and clinics to replace Planned Parenthood. On Friday, HHSC officials acknowledged they are unsure whether the new doctors can pick up Planned Parenthood's caseload in all parts of the state.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Va. Sen. Webb launches presidential exploratory committee
- Ex-coal exec pleads not guilty in W.Va. mine blast
- Obama defers deportations for 4 million illegals
- NSA: China thefts could lead to attack
- ‘Sex purchasers’ publicly shamed
- Shooter wounds 3 in Florida State library before being killed by police
- E-cigarettes cut cravings, study finds
- Enrollment count in federal health care law padded, House panel says
- Finally, a man walks like a gecko in scientists’ lab
- Roofs collapse under Buffalo snow; weekend forecast adds to urgency to clear bulk
- CIA considers ‘major’ changes, including breaking up spying, analysis divisions