dglobalnews.com Judge blocks Texas from defunding Planned Parenthood
Published: Fri, February 24, 2017
Medical | By Benjamin Edwards

Judge blocks Texas from defunding Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood has 34 health centers in Texas, serving more than 120,000 patients, 11,000 of whom are Medicaid patients, it said.

A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued a temporary injunction Tuesday preventing the state from cutting off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, while in Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have blocked state funding for the organization.

"We will never back down, and we will never stop fighting for our patients", said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, according to the New York Times. Governor Greg Abbot has ordered aborted fetuses to be cremated or buried. "This ruling ensures that Medicaid patients can continue to receive birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, STD treatment and other essential healthcare services at Planned Parenthood's health centers throughout Texas".

According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks of Austin, Texas, reasoned that, in continuing to lean on those doctored 2015 sting videos as proof that Planned Parenthood is operating nefariously and illegally, Texas failed to offer credible evidence that the health care provider had actually done anything wrong.

Shortly after the ruling, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a news release he was disappointed with the decision and plans to appeal.

Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing and sued the anti-abortion activists who made the videos.

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"A secretly recorded video, fake names, a grand jury indictment, congressional investigations - these are the building blocks of a best-selling novel rather than a case concerning the interplay of federal and state authority through the Medicaid program". The judge, appointed by former President George H.W. Bush, cited obvious political motivations and a lack of evidence in the ruling. Knowing Texas, however, this case is likely to move up the appellate circuit and all the way to the Supreme Court.

In December, the Texas Office of the Inspector General sent a letter to Planned Parenthood, saying it found "numerous violations of generally accepted standards of medical practice" based on a 2015 video.

The reproductive healthcare group has said the threatened funding cut, by terminating Planned Parenthood's enrollment in the state-funded healthcare system for the poor, could affect almost 11,000 patients across Texas as they try to access services such as HIV and cancer screenings. No taxpayer in Texas should have to subsidize this repugnant and illegal conduct.

But federal law restricts how any organization uses Medicaid funds for abortion services. "We should never lose sight of the fact that, as long as abortion is legal in the United States, the potential for these types of horrors will continue", Paxton said in a statement.

Joseph Potter, a researcher with the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, said there are a lot of reasons it wouldn't be easy to replace Planned Parenthood.

While backers of the measure claim it would have "prioritized taxpayer dollars toward providers of more comprehensive health care services", McAuliffe and other Virginia Democrats saw it as a smokescreen to defund planned Parenthood. And the Hyde Amendment already limits federal funding for abortions only in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

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