Court Rules that Texas Can Deny Planned Parenthood Women's Health Program Funding

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The Houston Chronicle reports that a Texas state district judge has denied a request by Planned Parenthood to issue a restraining order against a state law banning the funding of the organization's clinics under the Women's Health Program.

Decision made pending a hearing before another court

The decision means that Planned Parenthood would not receive funding under the program that provides contraceptive and health-screening services to low-income women under a law that goes into effect Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle. This ruling was made pending a hearing before another court scheduled for Jan. 11. The court stated that Planned Parenthood failed to prove that it would suffer irreparable harm if it were to be denied the funding. This is despite a claim by Planned Parenthood's lawyer that women will die as a result of the ruling.

Texas law stems from abortion politics

The controversy, which involved Planned Parenthood, the state of Texas and the Obama administration, began when the Texas Health and Human Services commissioner signed a rule banning the participation of Planned Parenthood and other affiliates of abortion providers from participation in the Women's Health Program, according to the Texas Tribune. The federal government then cut off its portion of the program, funded under Medicaid, according to Reuters, prompting a law suit by the state of Texas against the Department of Health and Human Services. In the meantime, Texas has vowed to cover the expense of the Women's Health Program out of state funds.

Planned Parenthood sues

The rule was originally scheduled to go into effect on May 1, 2012, but was delayed by court order while a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood proceeded, according to Fox News. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in August, allowing the cut-off of funding to proceed. However, according to the Dallas Observer, Planned Parenthood sought relief in the state courts, winning a temporary injunction on the implementation of the rule that has now expired.

The bottom line

The ruling does not mean that the court battle is over by any means. As the Houston Chronicle indicated, there will be yet another hearing in a state court in the middle of January on the matter. The case has every potential of winding its way to the Texas Supreme Court eventually. In the meantime, low-income women will be obliged to seek services under the Texas Women's Health Program at providers other than those affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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