Federal Judge in Texas Rules in Favor of Women’s Health
Court Halts Exclusion of Planned Parenthood from Women’s Health Program, Protecting Access to Preventive Care for Tens of Thousands of Women
Austin, TX — Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas applaud a federal court’s ruling today to halt the state from implementing a rule that would have excluded Planned Parenthood from the Women’s Health Program. Planned Parenthood and its supporters call on Governor Perry and the state to continue this lifesaving program.
“Tens of thousands of Texan women enrolled in the Women’s Health Program rely on Planned Parenthood for lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, and access to birth control. For many women, we are the only doctor’s visit they will have this year,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “This ruling affirms what women have known all along: politics simply doesn’t have a place in women’s health.”
On April 11, Texas Planned Parenthood family planning providers who do not perform abortions filed suit against the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) in federal court in order to protect Texan women’s access to basic, preventive health services. In his ruling today, Judge Lee Yeakel agreed with the Planned Parenthood family planning providers that the new rule is likely unconstitutional because it bars them from participating in the Women’s Health Program based on their affiliation with legally and financially separate entities that engage in constitutionally protected conduct related to abortion.
Shockingly, Texas officials have suggested that they would rather end the entire Women’s Health Program, eliminating basic, preventive health care for more than 100,000 low-income women, than have Planned Parenthood continue to participate in the program. Texan women remember that last year, Governor Perry eliminated two-thirds of the budget for women’s preventive health care. As a result, more than 160,000 low-income women have been left without access to lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, testing and treatment for STDs and other health exams this year.
“We call on Governor Perry and the state to put Texan women first and set aside any vendetta they may have against Planned Parenthood,” said Patricio Gonzales, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County. “No woman should ever have to fear being cut off from her doctor’s care because of shortsighted political games.”
Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas are being represented by attorneys from the Texas firm Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, and are joined by Planned Parenthood Federation of America attorneys in the suit.
“Legal action is always a last resort, but the state and Governor Perry’s actions gave us no other option,” said Gonzales. “The health and well-being of our patients is our number-one priority. We hope that this decision will allow us to continue our lifesaving work of providing high-quality health care and cancer screenings to some of Texas’ most vulnerable women.”
Planned Parenthood’s complaint is available online here.
A copy of the order granting preliminary injunction is available here.
FACT: Currently more than one-quarter of Texan women are uninsured, and women in Texas have the third-highest rate of cervical cancer in the U.S.
FACT: Planned Parenthood is the single largest provider of care within the Women’s Health Program and consistently delivers high-quality care to low-income women. In fact, over 40 percent of the women who receive services through WHP chose to rely on a Planned Parenthood health center.
FACT: Women’s Health Program funds are prohibited by law from paying for abortions.
FACT: The Planned Parenthood health centers involved in the suit provide preventive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, testing and treatment for STDs, breast health services, Pap tests, and sexual health education and information.
FACT: Planned Parenthood health centers that participate in the Women’s Health Program are legally and financially separate from Planned Parenthood health centers that provide safe and legal abortions.
FACT: The Texas rule to exclude Planned Parenthood from WHP comes after budget cuts passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Perry last year have dramatically reduced the state’s family planning program by more than two-thirds. These cuts are projected to take health care away from 160,000 women per year.
April 30, 2012