Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Austin

Appeals court clears way for Planned Parenthood funding cuts

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Texas received the go-ahead Tuesday to cut off Planned Parenthood funding, pending an October trial. It's the latest legal twist in the ongoing Women's Health Program funding court drama.

Since the Women's Health Program was formed in 2005, taxpayer money never funded abortion providers. Last year, the Texas legislature took the measure a step further when it reauthorized the law and banned organizations affiliated with abortion providers from receiving state subsidies.

Nine Planned Parenthood clinics--which do not provide abortions--filed suit, claiming the law violates their First Amendment rights. Attorney General Greg Abbott argued the state gets to determine how state money is spent.

The plaintiffs won that round. Planned Parenthood received a temporary injunction, blocking the enforcement of the law. The federal judge in Austin even went one step further, saying there was sufficient evidence the state's law is unconstitutional.

Tuesday, however, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dealt another reversal. In a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel overturned the injunction, freeing Texas to cut off funding.

Gov. Rick Perry has insisted that if the state is forced to include Planned Parenthood in the WHP, it will shut down the program altogether. Perry has said the state would find another way to pay for low-income women's health programs.

The trial is set for October. Federal Judge Lee Yaekel warned both sides a decision likely won't be reached before Nov. 1, which is when the state had said it would eliminate the program.

You can read the full brief, below:

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