The U.S Fifth Circuit Court (in New Orleans) has once again overturned a block from a liberal judicial activist that was keeping Texas from enforcing a Pro-Life rule disqualifying abortion providers and affiliates from the state-run Women’s Health Program (WHP).
Since the Pro-Life rule was enjoined by a federal District Judge in April, there have been multiple rulings over whether Texas can enforce this rule that would ban abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, from participation in the program.
Nine Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates filed a lawsuit on April 11, asking Judge Yeakel to block the Pro-Life rule passed in 2011 when the program was reauthorized by the Legislature. They complained that the rule is unconstitutional.
Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit heard the full arguments over the injunction and lifted the block, granting the state permission to immediately stop sending money, our tax dollars, to Planned Parenthood.
The judges affirmed that the state can set rules and parameters for programs run and funded by the state.
Planned Parenthood argued that the Pro-Life rule violated their first amendment rights of speech and association because the rule ousts them from the program because of their affiliation (association) with abortion providers, their abortion referral business, and their discussion and advocacy of abortion with their patients.
The panel acknowledged that the state of Texas is authorized to set eligibility standards for state funded programs in regard to affiliation and speech. In fact, Planned Parenthood would be eligible to participate in the WHP if they would stop promoting and committing abortion, if they would stop killing innocent, unborn babies.
The Legislature began the WHP in 2005 to serve low income women, and when renewing the program in 2011, legislators were careful not to funnel women to abortion providers for basic health care services; thus, legislators added the Pro-Life rule, which is the subject of the controversy.
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With Governor Perry’s help, the WHP was expanded to agencies that provide a wide range of services, serve a broader population, and are not involved in abortion. The Fifth Circuit said the program can be in effect, including the Pro-Life rule, while the rest of the lawsuit is in progress
Quote from court opinion:
“The appellees administer a Texas program under the authority of a Texas statute and its regulations, and they receive public funds in return. Texas may limit what the appellees [Planned Parenthood] communicate in this capacity. The appellees have not made a clear showing that they are likely to succeed in demonstrating that the THHSC regulations’ restriction on promoting elective abortions violates their First Amendment rights.”
LifeNews.com Note: Elizabeth Graham is the president of Texas Right to Life.