Court allows Texas to de-fund Planned Parenthood

New Orleans, La., Oct 27, 2012 / 05:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- 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 governor 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 which 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 that “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.”

Texas' rule against abortion affiliates participating in Women's Health Program is due to come into effect Nov. 1.

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