Planned Parenthood Urges Court to Keep Texas Funding in Place

Planned Parenthood-affiliated groups in Texas asked a federal appeals court to uphold a ruling requiring the state to keep subsidizing the clinics.

The organizations said a lower court in Austin correctly blocked a state regulation that would prevent the state from contracting with entities affiliated with abortion providers.

“The government may not disqualify a recipient of government funds based on constitutionally protected conduct that occurs outside the government program,” the Planned Parenthood groups said in a filing yesterday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The groups said the loss of funding would cause them and their patients “irreparable harm” because it would force cutbacks in services.

The Texas regulation was designed to exclude operators of 49 health centers from a state-funded program that provides health care to thousands of low-income women.

After the Planned Parenthood groups sued last month, a federal judge in Austin issued an injunction preventing Texas from cutting off public funds while the court challenge is pending. The New Orleans appellate court will hear arguments on the preliminary injunction on June 7.

State Ban

The case pits Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, against President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Perry pledged earlier this year to replace almost $30 million in federal funds for a women’s health program that the Obama administration cut off because of the state ban on abortion providers. Obama has said Texas can’t block federally approved organizations such as Planned Parenthood from participating in programs underwritten by Medicaid, which pays for health services for the poor.

Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Perry, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on yesterday’s filing.

The district court case is Planned Parenthood of Hidalgo County Texas v. Suehs, 12-00322, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin). The appeals court case is Planned Parenthood of Hidalgo County Texas v. Suehs, 12-50377, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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