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Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Again Over Funding Cutoff

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas filed two more lawsuits over the state’s exclusion of its clinics from taxpayer-funded health programs for low-income women.

The organization filed complaints in state and federal courts today challenging Texas’s ban on including the clinics in the state-funded program Republican Governor Rick Perry created to replace a federally funded program Texas rejected this year because it forced the state to provide money to Planned Parenthood.

The new program bars participating health providers from performing or promoting abortions or being affiliated with providers that perform abortions. The rules also contain what Planned Parenthood said is a “poison pill” killing the program if its provisions are found by a court to be unconstitutional or the state is blocked from enforcing it, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Austin, the state capital.

The Texas Legislature rejected an identical amendment to the program last year, according to the complaint. The federal lawsuit claims that Planned Parenthood received $13 million from the state’s womens’ health program last year, and without those funds it will be forced to reduce services, close clinics and lay off workers, leaving its 48,000 patients to find other providers or forgo care.

The federal complaint seeks a court order declaring that the program violates the organization’s constitutional rights.

Public Policy

While the state’s 49 Planned Parenthood clinics don’t provide abortions, Texas officials said their close affiliation with a national pro-choice group such as Planned Parenthood undermined the state’s pro-life public policy.

The new womens’ health program provides yearly exams, family planning and birth-control options for low-income women, according to the state’s Health and Human Services Commission. Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the agency, said attorneys hadn’t yet been served with the complaints.

“It doesn’t change anything, because we are going to continue to make sure women have access to these services and we are going to continue to work to fully enforce state law, which bans affiliates of abortion providers from getting this money,” Goodman said in a telephone interview. Planned Parenthood first sued over state funding cuts in April. A federal judge blocked the cuts and an appeals court overturned the ruling in August.

The new program became effective Nov. 1, although the state hasn’t begun implementing it yet, Planned Parenthood said in the complaint.

The federal case is Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas v. Janek, 12-1132, U.S District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin). The state lawsuit is Planned Parenthood v. Janek, D-1-GN-12-003887, District Court of Travis County (Austin).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

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

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