Planned Parenthood wins first round of Texas funding fight
Abortion | Federal judge temporarily blocks rule stripping the abortion giant of Medicaid money
by Leigh Jones
Posted 1/20/17, 03:38 pm
A federal judge on Thursday blocked an effort by the state of Texas to strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid funding.
State officials announced plans last month to cut $3 million in funding, the final step in a long process to pull all government money from the nation’s largest abortion provider. In 2010, Planned Parenthood centers in Texas received $27 million in state funding.
Texas launched its final defunding effort after the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of undercover videos that showed Planned Parenthood executives and abortionists discussing methods for procuring aborted baby body parts for companies that sell them to researchers. A subsequent congressional investigation showed tissue providers made massive profits from body parts collected at Planned Parenthood centers.
“Your willingness to engage in these practices violates generally accepted medical standards, and thus you are not qualified to provide medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner,” Texas Health and Human Services Commission Inspector General Stuart Bowen wrote in a letter to Planned Parenthood last month.
But U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks chastised state lawyers for relying so heavily on the CMP videos as evidence. He called the videos “baloney” in regard to the Medicaid question, ordering attorneys to provide more information about the types of services Planned Parenthood provides in exchange for Medicaid money.
Although the abortion giant has yet to face prosecution for its role in the fetal tissue industry, the U.S. House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives referred Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to the Texas attorney general for criminal prosecution earlier this month.
Texas is not the only state to see its defunding efforts halted by the courts. Similar measures in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi all ended in legal challenges. The Obama administration also fought to block state efforts to shrink Planned Parenthood’s income from taxpayers.
But pro-life advocates expect a drastic change under the Trump administration and the new Republican-controlled Congress. In 2015, lawmakers passed a measure to reallocate Planned Parenthood funding to federally qualified health centers that don’t perform abortions. President Barack Obama vetoed it, but President Donald Trump has said he would support a similar bill.
The Texas defunding effort was set to go into effect Saturday. Sparks postponed it until Feb. 21, but he likely will rule on the legality of the measure before then.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.