In the continuing saga of Texas v. Planned Parenthood, a second federal court has told Gov. Rick Perry et al. that they can’t play political football with women’s health care access, at least for the time being.
A quick summary of relevant events:
- Perry and other GOP lawmakers in Texas have been trying to defund the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics because, along with basic women’s health care, the organization also provides abortions.
- To this aim, the state tried to block Planned Parenthood from participating in its Women’s Health Program, which offers Medicaid vouchers to low-income women to help cover health care costs (despite the fact— worth emphasizing every time we talk about this—that federal money is never allowed to be used for abortion services, anyway, so the vouchers already couldn’t be used to pay for abortions).
- Planned Parenthood and affiliates sued.
- Last week, Judge Lee Yeakel of the U.S. District Court in Austin ruled that the state’s exclusion of Planned Parenthood-affiliated groups was unconstitutional and passed an injunction stopping Texas from going ahead with its plan.
Cased closed? Au contraire. The state appealed, claiming “irreparable harm” if it couldn’t go through with dissipating low-income women’s access to health care in Texas. Thus the issue was kicked to the U.S. fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. And the New Orleans court—yay!—not only upheld the injunction for now, it accused Texas of omitting facts that “call into question” its claim of emergency (in other words, of being big fat liars, or at least disingenuous).
Case closed? Ha! The appeals court didn’t yet rule on the merits of the case, meaning the injunction is still only temporary. Oral arguments on the injunction will be revisited in early June. For now, however … Well, as Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement: ”Planned Parenthood’s doors are open today and they’ll be open tomorrow.”
“We won’t let politics interfere with the health care that nearly three million people a year rely on Planned Parenthood for in Texas and around the country,” she said.
Photo: Helen L. Montoya/San Antonio Express-News