[12.28.12 -- If visiting Judge Gary Harger decides to grant Planned Parenthood a restraining order to keep them from being kicked out of the Women’s Health Program, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will appeal the decision to a higher court.
Hopefully, Judge Harger will allow Texas to follow the duly-approved legislation that gives Planned Parenthood a choice just like every other organization. If they wanted to be a part of the Women’s Health Program, all they had to do was to quit offering abortions. It was Planned Parenthood’s choice to keep on killing the unborn, and that makes the organization ineligible for Texas’ Women’s Health Program.
Texas is set to launch its own state-run, state-financed Women’s Health Program on Jan. 1; and Texas will be able to offer women safer healthcare WITHOUT using our tax dollars to pay for women’s abortions. “Thank you, Texas Legislature, Gov. Rick Perry, and TAG Greg Abbott.” – Donna Garner]
Posted: 1:25 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28, 2012
CONTINUING COVERAGE: WOMEN’S HEALTH PROGRAM
Judge: Planned Parenthood decision coming Monday
A judge will decide Monday whether to grant Planned Parenthood’s request for a restraining order barring Texas from kicking the organization out of the Women’s Health Program.
After a 90-minute hearing Friday in Travis County district court, visiting Judge Gary Harger said he needed the weekend to research issues raised by Planned Parenthood and lawyers for state Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Texas officials have spent almost all of 2012 trying to remove Planned Parenthood from the program, which provides contraceptives and preventive health care such as cancer screenings to about 115,000 low-income women each year.
Gov. Rick Perry and other Republican leaders object to the organization’s vocal advocacy for abortion rights. Planned Parenthood also is the nation’s leading provider of abortions, though none of the organization’s clinics that participate in the Women’s Health Program offer the procedure.
To date, multiple lawsuits from Planned Parenthood have allowed the organization to remain in the program.
The latest lawsuit, filed two weeks ago, seeks a temporary restraining order requiring Planned Parenthood to continue in the program when Texas launches a state-run, state-financed Women’s Health Program on Jan. 1, replacing a six-year-old program by the same name that received 90 percent of its money from the federal government.
The change was necessary because federal officials, declaring that state efforts to bar Planned Parenthood violated U.S. law governing Medicaid spending, will cut off federal money on New Year’s Eve — the day Harger plans to issue his ruling.
Texas plans to launch its state-financed program Jan. 1 without Planned Parenthood, which serves about 48,000 women each year, more by far than any other provider.
In Friday’s hearing, a lawyer for Planned Parenthood asked Harger to issue a restraining order barring Texas from excluding Planned Parenthood and from shutting down the Women’s Health Program if the organization prevails in court.
State law did not give Texas health officials the authority to ban the group, lawyer Pete Schenkkan argued, adding that Perry and other GOP officials are wrong when they insist that Texas law gives them no option but to cancel the entire program if a court orders Planned Parenthood’s continued inclusion.
“State agencies do not have the power to change statutes, nor to ignore statutes. Only the Legislature can,” Schenkkan said.
The order sought by Planned Parenthood would last until a Jan. 11 hearing to examine the arguments in detail.
A lawyer for Texas, however, warned Harger that Abbott will appeal if the judge grants a restraining order. Such orders are intended to preserve the status quo, lawyer Kristofer Monson argued, but the Texas-run program is a new initiative that will begin without Planned Parenthood as a participant.
“You can’t get a temporary restraining order to change your legal status, to get into a program they are currently excluded from,” Monson said.