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Court: Texas Has the Right to De-Fund Planned Parenthood

by Steven Ertelt | Austin, TX | LifeNews.com | 10/26/12 3:36 PM

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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to grant an additional hearing to Planned Parenthood regarding Texas’ legislation to end taxpayer funding of abortion companies, including Planned Parenthood.

The decision effectively ends the legal controversy surrounding the law and affirms Texas’ right to stop taxpayer dollars from flowing to abortion providers.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry applauded the decision, saying, “Today’s ruling affirms yet again that in Texas the Women’s Health Program has no obligation to fund Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform or promote abortion. In Texas we choose life, and we will immediately begin defunding all abortion affiliates to honor and uphold that choice.”

This morning the Susan B. Anthony List praised the decision.

“States like Texas have the right to stop taxpayer funding of abortion providers. The Fifth Circuit court’s decision validates this and we applaud Texas for getting taxpayers out of the abortion business,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Abortion-centered organizations like Planned Parenthood neither need nor deserve taxpayer dollars.

Dannenfelser told LifeNews: “Governor Perry, the pro-life Texas state legislature, as well as our friends at Texas Right to Life deserve much praise. Even after the Obama Administration carried out its threat and cut funding for Texas’ Women’s Health Program because the state defunded abortion providers, Texas refused to yield. Governor Perry vowed to keep the Women’s Health Program, which serves vulnerable women, fully funded using state dollars. Texas has shown the rest of America what it means to be both pro-woman and pro-life.”

Last year the Texas state legislature defunded abortion providers including Planned Parenthood of state-controlled family planning funding. In December 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent a letter to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission rejecting Texas’ law by turning down the state’s request to run their own family planning program. In March 2012, HHS officially stopped $30 million in federal funding for Texas’ Women’s Health Program because they excluded Planned Parenthood. Governor Perry pledged to fully fund the program using state dollars.

In August 2012, the Fifth Circuit court overturned the April 2012 ruling of a Texas judge who granted a preliminary injunction to Planned Parenthood affiliates while they sued the state of Texas over the law. Previously, Texas Governor Rick Perry pointed out that Planned Parenthood clinics represent less than two percent of the more than 2,500 enrolled providers.

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.

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.

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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.

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.