Federal Appeals Court Rules Texas Can Move Forward With Defunding Planned Parenthood

In a blow to low-income Texan women, the Fifth Circuit federal appellate court has denied Texas Planned Parenthood’s request to receive a re-hearing before its full bench, allowing the state to move forward with its decision to defund the organization.

Last week, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) green-lighted rules to cut off federal funding to the state’s Women’s Health Program, after Texas officials targeted Planned Parenthood as an “abortion affiliate” that shouldn’t be eligible to participate in the program. A three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas could move forward with discriminating against Planned Parenthood, and the court’s move to deny Planned Parenthood’s re-hearing prevents the organization from contesting that decision.

In a press release, Planned Parenthood of Texas President Kenneth S. Lambrecht slammed the court for failing to recognize Texas HHS’s new rules as a politically-motivated attack on the essential medical services that his organization provides, as well as the low-income women in Texas who depend on them:

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.

This case has never been about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the Texas women who turn to us every day. Politics should never come between a woman and her health care. Further consideration by the full court was needed to protect nearly 48,000 low-income Texas women’s access to preventive health care such as life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control and STD screenings.

In the wake of Texas HHS’s and the appellate court’s decisions, over 100 providers are expected to lose their funding, denying preventative screenings and other health services to thousands of low-income women in Texas — a state where over 160,000 women are already forgoing such care due to state budget cuts and regulatory restrictions. Earlier this week, a federal appellate court in Indiana and a federal judge in Arizona blocked those states from following in Texas’ footsteps and defunding their own Planned Parenthood affiliates.