Planned Parenthood Wins Last-Minute Court Order Blocking Texas’ Defunding Effort

In a disappointing setback for pro-lifers on Wednesday, a Texas district court judge temporarily blocked the state’s attempt to defund abortion giant Planned Parenthood (PP), hours before the state ban was supposed to go into effect. The action to bar PP from the state’s Medicaid program came after undercover videos in 2015 from David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress, as well as later investigations by several congressional committees, revealed possible violations of state and federal law by PP regarding the procurement of fetal tissue from abortions for research.

In response to the investigations, Texas removed Planned Parenthood from the roll of “qualified providers” under Medicaid. Planned Parenthood immediately filed a federal lawsuit.

Last November, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ultimately ruled in Texas’ favor in that challenge, opening the way for the ban to take effect on Thursday.

PP then filed a state court lawsuit this week, and just hours before the ban was take effect, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Travis County, Texas, granted a temporary restraining order blocking the state from making the ban final. She also ordered that a hearing be held on February 17 to determine whether a further injunction is necessary.

Temporary restraining orders (TROs) can be granted to one party even before the opposing party has a chance to be heard. They are intended to preserve the status quo until all parties can come before the judge and present arguments. At that point, judges can grant “preliminary injunctions” which extend the effect of a TRO until such time as a full trial, with evidence and witnesses, can be conducted.

According to Newsweek, “the emergency lawsuit, filed by Planned Parenthood affiliates, made a technical argument that state officials had not issued [termination] notifications in accordance with state law.”

Apart from the technical argument PP is making in the present lawsuit, it has more generally argued low-income women will be harmed if Texas is allowed to revoke PP’s Medicaid credentials. “For now, if courts don’t immediately step in to block [Texas Gov. Greg] Abbott’s harmful order, 8,000 Texans with low incomes could lose access to critical, life-saving health care, including cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and birth control,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement

However, as The Daily Citizen has previously reported, there are plenty of alternatives for such services available in Texas.

We’ll follow this lawsuit and bring you any updates as necessary.

Photo from B Merkle / Shutterstock.com

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