The Corner

Law & the Courts

Fifth Circuit Permits Texas and Louisiana to Defund Planned Parenthood

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that Texas and Louisiana may remove state Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood clinics, reversing lower court rulings that prohibited the states from defunding the abortion provider.

The ruling came from the entire Fifth Circuit, reversing a previous ruling by a three-judge panel that had forbidden Texas from removing Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. This decision also undoes another previous ruling that had prevented Louisiana from blocking Planned Parenthood from state Medicaid funds.

Judge Priscilla Owen, writing for the eleven-judge majority, said that the seven women who sued Texas over the removal of Planned Parenthood’s funding did not have standing to challenge the state’s determination that the abortion group was unqualified. According to Owen, federal law “does not unambiguously provide that a Medicaid patient may contest a State’s determination that a particular provider is not ‘qualified.’”

Rather, Owen wrote, “whether a provider is ‘qualified’ . . . is a matter to be resolved between the State (or the federal government) and the provider.” The Texas Health and Human Services Commission based its decision to remove Planned Parenthood’s state Medicaid funding on undercover footage obtained by the Center for Medical Progress — and verified by two forensic reviews — indicating that the abortion organization had broken federal law by profiting from the sale of fetal body parts from aborted babies that were then sold for research.

Yesterday’s decision from the Fifth Circuit not only reverses earlier decisions about cutting Planned Parenthood funding in Texas and Louisiana but also affects Mississippi, which also falls under the jurisdiction of the Fifth Circuit. Plaintiffs are expected to appeal their case to the Supreme Court.

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