A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Texas cannot suspend Medicaid dollars from going to Planned Parenthood. The case was brought to court as part of a broader Republican effort launched in 2015 to defund the women’s health care provider after anti-abortion activists secretly recorded footage of the organization and accusing it of illegally selling fetal body parts.
The decision by U.S. District Sam Sparks of Austin preserves the provision of cancer screenings, birth control access and other health services for nearly 11,000 low-income women at 30 clinics across Texas. Texas is now at least the sixth state in which federal courts have intervened to keep Planned Parenthood eligible for Medicaid reimbursements.
The videos in question were released by The Centre for Medical Progress, who claimed they showed staff at Planned Parenthood illegally selling fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood refuted the allegations and investigations by 13 states into the recordings resulted in no criminal charges being brought against the organization. The two anti-abortion activists were indicted earlier this year, but the judge later dismissed the charges.
Sparks dismissed the videos as providing zero evidence of Planned Parenthood wrongdoing. “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. “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.”
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said he will appeal the decision.
Encouraged by the new Trump administration, anti-abortion activists are campaigning for the federal government to end all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. This would leave an estimated 400,000 women losing access to care and cut off roughly $400 million in Medicaid support.
Read the full story at The Associated Press.