It's been a bumpy week for Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas. First a U.S. district judge temporarily stopped a new law that would have cut Planned Parenthood out of the state Women's Health Program. Then a panel of judges smacked down that ruling. And now, the same appeals court has restored state funding to the family planning provider until its case can be heard later this month.
On Thursday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and his team of state lawyers asked a federal appeals court to block U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel's Monday decision that required the state to continue funding Planned Parenthood. In his request for an emergency stay, Abbott analogized Planned Parenthood to a terrorist organization and said the state would be forced to drop the entire Women's Health Program if it was asked to continue funding an organization that performs abortions.
While federal appeals Judge Jerry E. Smith initially complied with that request, Smith and two other judges changed their minds on Friday and denied the state's request on the grounds that the attorney general failed to show the state would suffer immediate, irreparable harm from giving Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood.
Abbott's office could not immediately be reached for comment.
None of the eight Planned Parenthoods that participate in the Texas Women's Health Program offer abortions, and Planned Parenthood accounts 40 percent of the program's services to low-income women across the state. If the court sides with Planned Parenthood in its upcoming case against the state, lawmakers have said they will likely shut down the whole Women's Health Program, which serves at least 130,000 women a year.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, tied the case to the presidential election.
"This case isn't about Planned Parenthood — it's about the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams," Richards said in a statement on Friday. "Governor Perry has already thrown 160,000 women off of health care for partisan political reasons -- now there will be more to come. Mitt Romney would supersize what's happening in Texas and try to block women's access to lifesaving health care nationwide."