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Court: Texas’ Can De-Fund Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz

by Steven Ertelt | Austin, TX | LifeNews.com | 8/21/12 7:45 PM

State

In a major victory, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans lifted a federal judge’s temporary injunction preventing the state of Texas from de-funding the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

The court ruled Texas can cut off funding for Planned Parenthood within its women’s health services program because Planned Parenthood is an abortion business.

Recently, a panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court overturned an appeals judge’s decision [that allowed Planned Parenthood to continue receiving funding]. The panel ruled the law Texas approved last year to prohibit abortion facilities from taking part in the program to protect taxpayers from funding abortion facilities is [constitutional].

Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Smith agreed  to overturn the stay he recently issued allowing the state to keep the funding ban in place.

Texas officials appealed the decision to the full appeals court and have already said they will be forced to shut down the program if Planned Parenthood wins its lawsuit to force the state to fund the abortion company.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Texas contending that the new law prohibiting it from participating in the Women’s Health Program is unconstitutional discrimination. The lawsuit asked the court for an injunction to stop enforcement of the rules preventing Planned Parenthood from getting taxpayer funding via the program , saying the rules violate their rights by putting an “unconstitutional condition on their participation” in the Women’s Health Program.

The lawsuit also alleges the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which is enforcing the rule, “overstepped its authority in adopting a rule that conflicts with the purpose of the laws that created the program.”

Federal District Judge Lee Yeakel initially ruled in favor of nine Planned Parenthood affiliates — giving them a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the law and requiring the state to continue funding the abortion business until the lawsuit is fully adjudicated.

However, state officials quickly appealed the ruling — with Attorney General Greg Abbott filing an emergency motion for stay in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Jerry E. Smith granted the stay “pending further order of this court” and requested a response from the abortion business by the close of business today.

Since the program began in 2005, Planned Parenthood — America’s largest abortion business — has disproportionately consumed 40 percent of the program’s budget. Although the rule banning abortion businesses has been part of the Women’s Health Program from the very beginning, it had not been enforced until 2011 when state lawmakers reaffirmed their commitment to keeping tax dollars out of the abortion industry during the 82nd legislative session.

In response, President Obama withdrew all federal support for the program, and Planned Parenthood sued the state of Texas. Judge Lee Yeakel blocked the law from going into effect, yet Yeakel’s ruling was appealed by Attorney General Greg Abbott, and the Fifth Circuit Court removed the block.

In addition to these approximately 4,000 agencies, Governor Perry’s office has identified another 2,500 eligible providers with 4,600 locations across the state. Planned Parenthood runs 69 facilities.

Elizabeth Graham, Director of Texas Right to Life, responded to the positive ruling:

“We’re thrilled the Fifth Circuit affirmed the states’ right to keep taxpayer dollars out of the abortion industry because the citizens of Texas are Pro-Life and don’t want to subsidize the abortion industry.

This debate is about true women’s health, and abortion is not health care.

We should help low-income women, but funneling them to abortion clinics does not help. Instead, there are more than 4,000 legitimate healthcare agencies that provide a wide range of services that are not affiliated with abortion providers.”

Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, also responded: “Planned Parenthood runs the largest chain of abortion facilities in our state, and they mix the Women’s Health Program and abortions under the same roof at many of those abortion facilities.”

“For example that is the case in Bryan, Dallas, Houston, and Waco. Governor Perry and the legislature have every right to prevent Planned Parenthood from promoting abortion as a method of family planning with tax dollars. We believe that today’s setback will be temporary and that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will recognize the constitutionality of Texas law,” he said. “Of the some 2,500 Women’s Health Program Providers, 98% have nothing to do with Planned Parenthood and abortion. Planned Parenthood, which has no mammogram machines, provides shabby care for low-income women. Planned Parenthood is unable or unwilling to offer comprehensive primary and preventative care, which low-income women deserve. A woman will not see a doctor at Planned Parenthood unless she is there for an abortion. The state ordered Planned Parenthood San Antonio to return thousands of WHP funds in 2009 because Planned Parenthood had been illegally operating unlicensed abortion facilities at the same sites where they were  providing WHP services.”

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Before the lawsuit, the Obama Administration cut off the Women’s Health Care Program (WHP) for over 100,000 Texas women at over 2,400 providers for the sake of Planned Parenthood, which provides only limited health service at 44 facilities in Texas. In response, Governor Rick Perry and state lawmakers found their own funding for it.

The Medicaid Women’s Health Program provides preventive health care to over 100,000 low-income women in Texas every year. There are over 2,400 qualified providers of the Medicaid WHP in Texas; only 44 Planned Parenthood facilities currently receive the funds.

The decision to cut Planned Parenthood funding also already forced the abortion business to close several centers throughout the state.

In December, the Obama Administration refused to renew funding for Texas’ Women’s Health Program (WHP) because of new state rules that disqualify abortion business affiliates from participation in the program. The WHP encompasses Medicaid family planning services for low income women. The program started through authorizing legislation in 2005 and was renewed in the recent 82nd legislative session with new pro-life rules.