5th Circuit Court of Appeals Refuses To Reconsider Planned Parenthood Funding Ban

Texas can move forward with excluding Planned Parenthood clinics from its health program for low income women while a lawsuit challenging the law moves forward.

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For all our coverage of the cuts to the Texas Women’s Health Program, click here.

A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state of Texas can move forward immediately with excluding Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in the state’s public health program for poor women.

Planned Parenthood had asked the full court to review an August decision by a three-judge panel that lifted a temporary injunction preventing Texas from cutting off state funds until a trial on the constitutionality of the Texas law can proceed. A trial had been scheduled for mid-October but was delayed until the appellate court could make its final ruling.

Gov. Rick Perry wasted no time responding to the order. In a statement issued Thursday, Perry said Texas will immediately “de-fund” the health organization’s affiliates.

“Today’s ruling affirms yet again that in Texas the Women’s Health Program has no obligation to fund Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform or promote abortion,” Perry said.

Representatives of Planned Parenthood made it clear they were in Texas to stay.

“Planned Parenthood has been in Texas for more than 75 years, and we’re not going anywhere.  We are here for the patients who rely on us and we will continue to evaluate every possible option to protect the health of our patients,”  Kenneth Lambrecht, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said in an e-mailed statement.

“This case has never been about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the Texas women who turn to us every day,” said Lambrecht. “Politics should never come between a woman and her health care, but in this decision, which conflicts with Supreme Court precedent, it appears it has.”

The case is far from over. The lower court must now set a trial date to hear evidence supporting Planned Parenthood’s claims that the Texas law violates its First Amendment rights, and no matter the outcome an appeal is all but certain. With challenges pending to similar laws in Arizona and Indiana it will likely be the Roberts Court that has the final say.