In an unexpected move this morning, a judge from a higher court reversed a decision made yesterday to block Texas from excluding abortion committers from a Texas health program that provides contraceptives and preventative care to low-income women.
Judge Jerry Smith from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Preliminary Injunction that lower federal district court Judge Lee Yeakel granted to Planned Parenthood yesterday, saying in an official order that Yeakel’s analysis of Planned Parenthood’s suit against Texas was “flawed.”
In early April, nine Planned Parenthood state affiliates sued the state of Texas over a Pro-Life rule that would keep any family planning clinic affiliated with the abortion industry out of the Women’s Health Program and away from taxpayer support. Last year, Planned Parenthood received more than $13 million dollars of public funding through the Women’s Health Program alone.
As the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood feared losing the generous government subsidy and told the court that enforcement of the eligibility rule in question would do irreparable harm to their business including forcing them to fire staff, reduce hours of operation, and shut down clinics.
Judge Yeakel in Austin was sympathetic to this complaint and ordered that the eligibility rule be put on hold and not be enforced until the entire lawsuit was settled between Planned Parenthood and the state of Texas. However, in the higher court, Judge Smith said that it would be the 130,000 Texan women who depend on the Women’s Health Program who would be irreparably harmed. Texas state law prohibits Texas from continuing the healthcare program if taxpayers are forced to fund abortion committers and affiliates. Therefore, Judge Yeakel’s stay, argues Judge Smith, forces Texas to choose between breaking its own law and the health and welfare of Texan women.
Elizabeth Graham, the director of Texas Right to Life, agrees with Judge Smith’s analysis. "By launching this politically-motivated lawsuit against the state of Texas, Planned Parenthood has shown that they are not the champion of women’s health they say they are. They are clearly willing to throw women’s health under the bus to maintain their government funding and further their abortion agenda. As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, if they can’t have the money, then nobody can."
For years, Planned Parenthood held the lion’s share of funding before being banned from participation in the Women’s Health Program last year, disproportionately consuming 40 percent of the program’s budget.
Planned Parenthood has argued that Texan women’s access to care would be diminished if their funding was withdrawn, yet the governor’s office has identified 2,500 other providers -- running 4,600 urban and rural locations across the state -- who are eligible to receive the funding instead. By comparison, Planned Parenthood runs only 69 facilities in Texas, located exclusively in urban areas.
But Graham said Planned Parenthood could still participate in the program if they focused on real healthcare: "The new Women’s Health Program rules are clear -- if you want funding, don’t commit abortions."