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Planned Parenthood Sues to Halt Exclusion from Program

Photo by: Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune
March 6th, 2012: Protest against Texas lawmakers decision regarding changed to the the Women's Health Program. the federal government is expected to cut funding for the program because Texas improperly excluded Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood branches in Texas have filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to block their exclusion from the state's Women's Health Program.

After Texas' Republican leaders indicated their intent to start enforcing a state rule that bans "affiliates" of abortion providers from participating in the Medicaid-funded contraception and cancer-screening program, the Obama administration pulled federal financing from the program. Gov. Rick Perryhas vowed that the state will find the money to continue the program without federal help — and that the rule banning Planned Parenthood clinics will stand. No clinics participating in the program have performed abortions. 

The lawsuit, filed today in Austin, asks the court for an injunction to stop enforcement of the rule, so that the Planned Parenthood clinics would be able to remain in the program. Its filers argue the rule violates clinics' rights by putting an "unconstitutional condition on their participation" in the Women's Health Program. It also alleges that the Health and Human Services Commission, which is enforcing the rule, "overstepped its authority in adopting a rule that conflicts with the purpose of the laws that created the program." 

We'll update this post as soon as we get a response from the governor's office or the attorney general. 

Emily Ramshaw investigates state agencies and covers social services for KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune. Previously, she spent six years reporting for The Dallas Morning News, first in Dallas, then in Austin. In April 2009 she was named Star Reporter of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Headliners Foundation of Texas. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, she received a bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
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