Texas Can't Stop Planned Parenthood From Receiving Medicaid Funding, Judge Rules
According to the Associated Press, a federal judge blocked Texas from removing Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood, issuing a temporary injunction until a trial can be scheduled and the case can be argued in front of a full court.
In a statement regarding his injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks said that the move to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds for patients would go against a patient's "statutory right to obtain health care from their chosen qualified provider."
According to The Dallas Morning News, Texas issued a notice announcing the termination of Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood in December. The notice reportedly mentioned now-debunked undercover videos made and released in 2015 by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress which erroneously led viewers to believe that the organization was selling fetal tissue acquired from abortions. In 2016, two of the CMP leaders involved in the creation of those videos were indicted on fraud and record-tampering charges in association with the videos.
Yvonne Gutierrez, who serves as executive director of Planned Parenthood advocacy operation in Texas, said in her statement following the injunction that the organization is pleased with Sparks' actions:
BREAKING: Federal judge blocks Texas from cutting off Medicaid dollars to Planned Parenthood over 2015 anti-abortion videos.— The Associated Press (@AP) February 21, 2017
Despite admitting to a lack of evidence that PP was harvesting fetal tissue with the intent to sell it, Texas Health Inspector General Stuart Bowen argued that the undercover videos point to abortion providers' willingness to alter abortions during a January hearing on the state's Medicaid ouster. The December termination notice came more than a year after officials in Texas signed a notice of intent stating their intention to bar PP from Medicaid funding.
In a move that resembles the American Civil Liberties Union's request of a federal judicial stay on President Donald Trump's controversial immigration ban, PP requested that Judge Sparks issue an injunction on the Medicaid ouster until the case could be tried in a full court. During the hearings that led to the injunction, Judge Sparks repeatedly asked witnesses on both sides of the issue for evidence that the organization did or didn't harvest fetal tissue for sale to researchers, and what impact the Medicaid ban would have on low-income Texans.
With his temporary injunction ruling, Judge Sparks joins the ranks of the federal judges who issued stays on Trump's immigration ban order in favor of regular Americans that will be unduly affected, and proves once again the power of the courts in our checks and balances system will not be overlooked.