Texas continued its fight in court Tuesday to defund the largest abortion chain in America of state taxpayer dollars.
Describing Planned Parenthood as “ethically challenged,” lawyers for the state said Texas should be allowed to disqualify groups from Medicaid if they do not meet basic standards, according to Courthouse News.
The case is before the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Texas has been trying to end Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding through its state Medicaid program since 2015, when undercover videos exposed the abortion chain’s “willingness to violate medical and ethical standards,” according to the state.
The Center for Medical Progress videos not only suggested that Planned Parenthood may be selling aborted baby body parts, but also that its abortionists were changing how they did abortions to better harvest the babies’ body parts.
“Texans shouldn’t have to send any more precious tax dollars to such a morally bankrupt organization,” Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins said in a statement Tuesday.
“As the raw footage makes clear, Planned Parenthood is an ethically-challenged organization at best,” Hawkins said. “This is exactly why Texas made the perfectly legal decision to strip it of Medicaid funding.”
Planned Parenthood receives about $3.1 million in taxpayer dollars through Texas annually, according to the Washington Examiner.
On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit judges seemed skeptical of Planned Parenthood’s lawyers’ arguments.
[Judge Edith] Jones and Judge Jennifer Elrod closely questioned Jennifer Sandman, an attorney who argued for multiple Planned Parenthood organizations and for Medicaid beneficiaries. Although the videos have been widely attacked as being heavily edited and inaccurate, they said there was no evidence of that entered into the case record.
“Don’t tell us about inaccurate videos,” said Jones, whose January opinion included a still shot of apparent fetal tissue, taken from the video. “Those videos were never challenged by the plaintiffs for accuracy.”
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Sandman also argued that cutting Medicaid to Planned Parenthood would violate the rights of patients to a “free choice of provider.”
In January, Jones was part of a Fifth Circuit panel that gave Texas the ok to enforce the defunding measure. The ruling reversed a lower court decision issuing a temporary injunction against the state.
Texas Right to Life reported more about the lawsuit in 2017:
Texas officials moved to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood in 2015 based on evidence of violations of patient safety and the illegal trafficking of body parts from aborted babies. Additionally, the Inspector General Stuart Bowen Jr. cited numerous abuses of Texas taxpayers through Medicaid fraud. Affiliates across the state have committed Medicaid fraud to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. In one case, the group only had to furnish fifteen cents for every dollar they stole from taxpayers.
It is not clear when the Fifth Circuit will rule on the matter, but news outlets speculated that the decision also may affect Louisiana and Mississippi, which are under the Fifth Circuit district with Texas.
Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana also are involved in court battles to defund the abortion giant.
Early last year, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said Kansas cannot defund Planned Parenthood, despite an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into its aborted baby body parts trade.
However, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar effort by Arkansas to defund the abortion chain in 2017. Because of the circuit split, pro-life groups thought that the U.S. Supreme Court would take up the case. However, the high court refused in late December.
Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion business in America, aborting more than 330,000 unborn babies last year. Its most recent annual report showed a record revenue of $1.66 billion, with about half a billion dollars coming from taxpayers. At the federal level, President Donald Trump and his administration also have been cutting off various streams of funding to abortion groups.