Texas Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Again Over Defunding

Texas Planned Parenthood is headed back to court with Texas officials in early November in the latest battle over funds for the women’s health clinic, who also offers abortions.

A Texas district court judge in Austin issued a temporary restraining order on Friday, which barred Texas officials from eliminating the organization from the Women’s Health Program if they wanted to continue accepting federal funds, reports The Los Angeles Times.

Judge Amy Clark Meachum issued the order after a lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood arguing that a new Texas state law that bars clinics affiliated with abortion providers from getting funding.

The organization’s stance is that the rule is invalidated by the Texas Human Resources Code, which states that any provision is “inoperative” if it causes Texas to lose federal funds for the Women’s Health Program — which is what happened because of the new rule.

Federal officials declared the new law illegal in March, because it interferes with a woman’s right to choose her doctor. It would also cause the federal government to withdraw Medicaid funding for the state.

The Women’s Health Program in Texas is 90 percent federally funded and provides health care and contraception services to more than 130,000 low-income women each year. Almost half of these women went to Planned Parenthood clinics.

Reuters notes that the suit was filed in state court after a federal appeals court denied to reconsider a ruling that allowed Texas to withhold funding for women’s healthcare from the organization’s clinics.

The new filing by Planned Parenthood uses a different legal tactic than the previous one. Conservative Republicans in about 10 states have pushed plans that would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. All of these have resulted in lawsuits from the organization.

The rule to ban Planned Parenthood in Texas has caused the federal government, who pays almost all of the $39 million each year to run the Women’s Health Program, to say they will not renew their funding. They made the decision because Texas decided to enforce a law, which has been on the books for several years, but had not previously been enforced. The law bans funding for abortion providers and affiliates.

Planned Parenthood serves almost half of the women in the Texas program by providing preventative healthcare like breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as birth control.