Texas appealing Planned Parenthood order

May 1, 2012 at 1:15 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, May 1 (UPI) -- Texas is appealing a judge's ruling that temporarily blocks the state from barring Planned Parenthood from serving low-income women, officials said.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel handed down the order Monday in Austin, The Houston Chronicle reported.

The ruling means women who get health-screening and contraceptive services through the Medicaid Women's Health Program can go to Planned Parenthood, Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said.

The Chronicle said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately filed a notice of appeal with the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

State officials say if Planned Parenthood wins the appeal and Yeakel's preliminary injunction becomes permanent, Texas law would compel the end of the Women's Health Program, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The program, which also covers screenings for a number of diseases, provides contraceptive services for women who are uninsured and would be eligible for Medicaid if they become pregnant.

About 130,000 women participate, with 40 percent of them getting care from Planned Parenthood.

Yeakel said a ban on providers in the program promoting abortion or providing abortions violates Planned Parenthood's First Amendment rights. The state set Monday as a deadline for health organizations to certify compliance or be dropped from the state program.

"Texas is reaching beyond the scope of the government program and penalizing plaintiffs for their protected conduct," Yeakel said.

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