A federal court in Texas ruled to stop a new law on Monday that excluded Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women's Health Program, which serves about 130,000 low-income women in the state. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it bars eight Planned Parenthood clinics that don't provide abortions from participating in the program based on their affiliation with legally and financially separate entities that offer abortions.
Yeakel also cited the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services cut off all Medicaid funding for family planning to Texas because of the new law, which could jeopardize the entire program.
"The court is particularly influenced by the potential for immediate loss of access to necessary medical services by several thousand Texas women," Yeakel wrote in his ruling. "The record before the court at this juncture reflects uncertainty as to the continued viability of the Texas Women's Health Program."
After HHS cut off Texas' Medicaid money, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) promised to make up for the $30 million funding gap and pay for the Women's Health Program with the state's own money. But conservative Texas officials have suggested that they would rather end the entire program than allow Planned Parenthood to participate in it.
Planned Parenthood pleaded with Perry on Monday to keep the program in place despite the court's ruling, because it offers cancer screenings, birth control, testing and treatment for STDs and other health exams to low-income women across the state.
"We call on Governor Perry and the state to put Texan women first and set aside any vendetta they may have against Planned Parenthood," said Patricio Gonzales, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County. "No woman should ever have to fear being cut off from her doctor’s care because of shortsighted political games."
Perry's office did not immediately respond to calls for comment.