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Judge to Rule on Planned Parenthood's Inclusion in Women's Health Program (Updated)

Update: A decision on whether to allow women in Texas to receive government subsidized health screenings through Planned Parenthood will not be issued until hours before the organization could be cut off by the state.  

Visting judge Gary Harger today delayed a decision until Monday, Dec. 31 at 1:15 p.m. over whether to extend the temporary restraining order requested by Planned Parenthood. The order would ensure continued funding for Planned Parenthood through the Texas Women's Health Program, at least until another hearing on Jan. 11. 

Texas officials say they will begin a new program Tuesday, Jan. 1 to provide impoverished women with the same services but exclude clinics affiliated with abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood. 

"Some Planned Parenthood clinics would have to close clinics and lay off staff" if the temporary restraining order is not extended, said Pete Schenkkan, an attorney for the organization. He was referring specifically to clinics in Hidalgo County which serve a high concentration of impoverished clients. Almost half of Planned Parenthood's 7,000 clients in Austin receive government support through the Women's Health Program.

On January 11, state District Judge Steve Yelenosky is scheduled to hold a temporary injunction hearing, during which Planned Parenthood would seek continued funding from the state until a full trial is completed.

Original post (9:59 a.m.): Planned Parenthood is asking a Travis County judge today to extend funding for the organization's preventive health care services for low-income women.

At 10:30 a.m., the Travis County District Court will hold a hearing on the motion by Planned Parenthood customer Marcella “Marcy” Balquinta and the organization itself, asking for a temporary restraining order. According to a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, the organization would like to ensure that “Balquinta and 111,000 Texas women will continue to have access to basic, preventative health care under the state’s new Texas Women’s Health Program.”

Planned Parenthood is arguing that the Texas Health and Human Services department doesn't have the authority to exclude Planned Parenthood from the the newly state-funded Texas Women's Health Program, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 1. It's seeking the restraining order to prevent being removed from the program. 

For more on the Texas Women's Health Program debate, read KUT News'  "Top Stories of 2012: The War Over Women’s Health."

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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