Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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Austin

Planned Parenthood sues over 'Affiliate Ban Rule'

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There is a new development today in the legal battle over funding for Planned Parenthood. The organization is suing over the state's "Affiliate Ban Rule."

Planned Parenthood argues the rule is invalid under state law. The suit comes one day after a federal appeals court denied Planned Parenthood's appeal of a ruling excluding it from the Women's Health Program.

At the heart of the issue is a law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. The Women's Health Program was formed in 2005 to provide women's health services to low-income women who would not otherwise qualify for Medicaid.

The program did not include using taxpayer money to fund clinics that provided abortions. Last year, lawmakers took the measure a step further when it reauthorized the law and banned organizations affiliated with abortion providers from receiving state subsidies. By excluding those providers, the state lost $40 million in federal funding to the Medicaid Women's Health Program.

The lawsuit filed today cites Chapter 32 of the Texas Human Resources Code, which Planned Parenthood says authorizes the Women's Health Program "subject to approval from the federal government."

It argues the Health and Human Services Commission was "not authorized by the Texas legislature to adopt the Affiliate Ban Rule because it makes the Women’s Health Program ineligible for federal funding."

Planned Parenthood has a separate lawsuit pending in federal court. That case deals with the constitutionality of the state law banning abortion provider affiliates from receiving funding. Planned Parenthood claims the statute violates its First Amendment right to free speech.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Greg Abbott has also filed a separate lawsuit against the federal government. He filed that suit after the federal government cut off funding to the Women's Health Program following the state's decision to exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from participating.

Abbott argues that the state has a right to determine who receives federal medicaid funding and asked the government to restore the money. In the meantime, the state plans to move forward with funding the program on its own.

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