November 9, 2012 — A U.S. District Judge in Texas on Thursday extended a temporary restraining order that allows 49 clinics operated by Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas to remain in the state's Women's Health Program for the time being, Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Shannon, Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/9).
Earlier this year, Texas decided to enforce a state law that prohibits organizations that are affiliated with abortion providers from participating in WHP. The federal government has covered most of the program's cost, but officials announced that the funding will end because of the state's move to exclude certain providers. The state previously announced it plans to launch its own program without federal money.
A state district judge first granted the temporary order last month, but it was set to expire on Friday (MacLaggan, Reuters, 11/8). On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Stephen Yelenosky extended the injunction and said that PPGT is "likely to prevail" on its claim that Texas' actions are "inconsistent with the instructions of the Texas Legislature."
Specifically, Yelenosky said that classifying all Planned Parenthood clinics as affiliates of abortion providers conflicts with the definition of "affiliate" used in the law on funding for WHP.
Lauren Bean, a spokesperson for state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), said the state will immediately appeal the decision. Attorneys for PPGT and the state are planning for a December trial (Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/9).
Federal Funding To End Dec. 31
Meanwhile, the Obama administration on Wednesday informed Texas officials that federal funding for WHP will end on Dec. 31.
In a letter, Cindy Mann of CMS wrote, "We cannot continue to provide full federal funding for a program that is not in compliance with federal law," adding that the state law "restricts women's ability to receive services from the qualified family planning providers of their choice" (Ramshaw, Texas Tribune, 11/8).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.