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A Federal Judge Blocked Texas's Plan to Defund Planned Parenthood

The judge ruled that the state cannot cut the reproductive health service provider's Medicaid dollars.
February 22, 2017, 3:53pm
Photo of a 2012 Planned Parenthood rally in Austin via Flickr user scATX

US district judge Sam Sparks ruled Tuesday that Texas cannot cut Planned Parenthood's access to Medicaid funding, the AP reports.

Texas health officials claimed that hidden-camera videos recorded by pro-life activists in 2015 allegedly showed Planned Parenthood attempting to sell fetal tissue for profit. The "heavily edited" recordings have been discredited and resulted in a series of indictments against the activists, but that hasn't stopped the videos from reinvigorating a Republican push to defund the health provider.

"No taxpayer in Texas should have to subsidize this repugnant and illegal conduct," Republican Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said of the tapes. "We should never lose sight of the fact that, as long as abortion is legal in the United States, the potential for these types of horrors will continue."

Judge Sparks ruled that Texas was unable to provide "any evidence" that Planned Parenthood did anything illegal or unethical that would warrant losing Medicaid funds. The state is now at least the sixth in the country to have attempted to cut Planned Parenthood funds and subsequently been blocked by the federal government.

"A secretly recorded video, fake names, a grand jury indictment, congressional investigations—these are the building blocks of a best-selling novel rather than a case concerning the interplay of federal and state authority through the Medicaid program," Sparks wrote in his 42-page ruling. "Yet, rather than a villain plotting to take over the world, the subject of this case is the State of Texas's efforts to expel a group of health care providers from a social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources."

According to Planned Parenthood, Sparks's decision will allow around 11,000 low-income women in the state to continue to have access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other health services.