Court: State Can Cut Off Planned Parenthood Funds

By Will Weissert
|  Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012  |  Updated 9:01 PM CDT
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Court: TX Can Cut Planned Parenthood Funds

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Texas can cut off funding for Planned Parenthood clinics that provide health services to low-income women before a trial over a new law that bans state money from going to organizations tied to abortion providers.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans lifted a federal judge's temporary injunction calling for the funding to continue pending an October trial on Planned Parenthood's challenge to the law.

Texas officials sought to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics that provide family planning and health services to poor women after the state's Republican-led Legislature passed a law banning funds to organizations linked to abortion providers. No state money goes to pay for abortions.

Planned Parenthood sued, saying the law violates its free speech rights. The Texas attorney general argued lawmakers may decide which organizations receive state funds.

The judge in Austin recently ruled that the funding should continue pending the trial on Planned Parenthood's lawsuit, saying there's sufficient evidence the state's law is unconstitutional.

The appeals court's decision comes as conservative groups across the nation try to pass and enforce laws to put Planned Parenthood out of business and make getting an abortion more difficult. Earlier this year the same court upheld a new Texas law requiring doctors to perform a sonogram and provide women with a detailed description of the fetus before carrying out an abortion.

The latest battle involves the Texas Women's Health Care Program, which is designed to provide services to women who might not otherwise qualify for Medicaid. The state paid for roughly $5 million for the program with the federal government paying $35 million.

The federal Commission on Medicare and Medicaid Services, however, warned Texas against banning groups from the program based on their political activities and the federal government cut funding. Gov. Rick Perry has promised the state will pick up the extra cost.

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