A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking Texas from cutting off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, a move that the reproductive health services organization estimated would have affected 11,000 low-income Texans.
Sam Sparks, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, ruled Tuesday to block the state’s termination of funds until the court could hear arguments and deliver a ruling in the case. Sparks previously delayed ruling on the case in January.
Texas officials announced late last year that the state would block Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding in response to a series of doctored “sting” videos released in 2015 that were manipulated to make it look like Planned Parenthood officials had sold fetal parts for profit. Last year, a grand jury found no evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood or its employees, but state officials decided to move forward with their defunding threat.
“Texans expect that when taxpayer dollars are granted to health care providers, it is only to those who demonstrate that the health and safety of their patients come before a profit motive that puts women at greater risk,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in December.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday called the decision “disappointing” and said it “flies in the face of human decency.”
About $4 million in federal funding for Planned Parenthood is on the line, which the group says supports health services like cancer screenings and HIV tests. The group maintains that, as per the 1977 Hyde Amendment, the funding is not used for abortions.
Similar efforts to block Planned Parenthood’s federal funding have failed in five other states: Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.