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Politics & Policy

District Judge Blocks Texas from Defunding Planned Parenthood

An pro-life marcher during the 46th annual March for Life at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., January 18, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Last week, just as Texas was set to officially defund Planned Parenthood, a district judge in Travis County sided with a complaint from the abortion group and blocked the move. After a brief hearing, district judge Maya Guerra Gamble granted Planned Parenthood a 14-day temporary restraining order against Texas’s effort to remove the group from the state Medicaid program.

According to Planned Parenthood’s complaint, the state failed to follow the correct legal process for removing the group’s funding. The group asserts that the state’s termination letter did not give reasonable notice or a chance for a hearing, though Texas officials did inform Planned Parenthood in writing on January 4 that its status as a Medicaid provider would be revoked in 30 days.

What’s more, Texas has been attempting to remove Planned Parenthood from the state Medicaid program for about five years, a move that the group challenged every step of the way.

Last November, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Texas, deciding that Medicaid patients may not challenge a state’s determination about whether any given provider is qualified to serve the Medicaid program.

Following that decision, Texas was set to move forward this month with the defunding effort, which began in 2015 after undercover video footage showed that Planned Parenthood affiliates — including Texas’s Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast — had been illegally profiting from the sale of fetal body parts of aborted babies.

In response to Planned Parenthood’s latest legal challenge, Texas officials have pointed out that its initial notice terminating the group’s Medicaid status, sent in January 2016, complied with all applicable laws. There will be a hearing next week before the same district judge who blocked the defunding, set to decide whether she will issue an injunction to maintain Planned Parenthood’s status as a Medicaid provider.

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