NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court has declined a rehearing for Planned Parenthood, which was trying to block Texas’ effort to defund its clinics in the state.
“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,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement Oct. 25.
“In Texas, we choose life, and we will immediately begin defunding all abortion affiliates to honor and uphold that choice.”
In March, Texas indicated it would forgo federal funding for its Women’s Health Program and established a rule that barred clinics that perform elective abortions or affiliates of those that do from participating in the program.
Women’s Health Program provides health care for uninsured, low-income women throughout the state.
Planned Parenthood sued Texas, claiming that the state’s no-abortion provision violated their clinics’ First Amendment rights to free speech and association.
On Aug. 21 a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals removed an April 30 injunction that had prevented Texas from defunding Planned Parenthood until a trial could be held about the issue.
That panel decided that “the authority of Texas to disfavor abortion within its own subsidized program is not violative of the First Amendment right.”
“Today, a unanimous appeals court rightfully recognized that the taxpayer-funded Women’s Health Program is not required to subsidize organizations that advocate for elective abortion,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot said Aug. 21.
“We are encouraged by today’s decision and will continue to defend the Women’s Health Program in court.”
Planned Parenthood requested a rehearing before the full appellate court, but was denied Oct. 25.
Judge Grady Jolly indicated that none of the circuit judges requested that the court be asked about the rehearing petition.
In reaction to the appellate court’s decision, Kenneth Lembrecht, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said in a statement, “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, but in this decision, which conflicts with Supreme Court precedent, it appears it has.”
Reuters reported Oct. 26 that Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas have filed a new challenge against the no-abortion provision in state court.
In a statement, Perry said Planned Parenthood was resorting to state court “in a desperate attempt to find some way to keep making money off Texas taxpayers.”
Said Perry, “We will keep fighting for life, and we will ultimately prevail.”
Texas’ rule against abortion affiliates participating in the Women’s Health Program is due to come into effect Nov. 1.
Reuters reported that because of the no-abortion provision in the Texas law, the federal government has said it will not renew its funding for the Texas program. The federal government currently pays for 90% of its cost.