Bloomberg News

Planned Parenthood Groups Sue Texas Over Health Program Ban

April 11, 2012

Texas Planned Parenthood organizations sued the state over a rule barring them from participating in the government-funded women’s health program because they advocate for access to abortions.

The rule, which prohibits the Texas Health and Human Services Commission from contracting with entities affiliated with abortion providers and will exclude the operators of 49 health centers from the program after April 30, is unconstitutional, the Planned Parenthood groups said in a complaint filed today in federal court in Austin, Texas. They seek a court order voiding the rule.

The dispute pitting Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, against President Barack Obama, a Democrat, over a state ban on aid to abortion providers or their affiliates is expected to force out the nonprofit Planned Parenthood organization, which cares for almost half of the program’s 130,000 participants.

“Given the difficulties of continuing to seek care either at plaintiffs’ health centers or alternative providers, many of plaintiffs’ patients will simply go without this preventive care altogether, resulting in them being at increased risk of undiagnosed cancer and STIs, unplanned pregnancies, and abortion,” the Planned Parenthood group said in the complaint.

Replace Federal Funds

Perry pledged last month to replace almost $30 million in federal funds for the women’s health program that the Obama administration cut off because of the state ban. 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.

Perry blamed the Obama administration’s “pro-abortion agenda” for the funding cutoff, in a letter last month to Obama. “The federal government should not be in the business of protecting abortion providers at the expense of the health of Texas women,” Perry said in the March 8 document.

“The state of Texas is under no obligation to provide taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, which accounts for less than 2 percent of the more than 2,500 WHP providers statewide,” Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Perry said in an e-mailed statement today. “Texas law has been very clear from Day One of this program that abortion providers and their affiliates, like Planned Parenthood, are not qualified providers.”

The case is Planned Parenthood v. Suehs, 12-00322, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net

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


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