Planned Parenthood loses bid to rehear challenge against Texas funding law
By Dave Andrusko
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has rejected a request by Planned Parenthood to rehear a decision by a three-judge panel that lifted an injunction against a Texas law that disqualifies abortion business affiliates from participating in the state’s Women’s Health Program.
“The only issue before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was whether the appeals court panel was wrong for lifting U.S. Judge Lee Yeakel’s temporary injunction against the bill,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, the director of National Right to Life’s Department of State Legislation. “The panel found that there would be no irreparable harm if the court first held a trial before deciding on the law’s constitutionality.”
In August the panel reversed Judge Yeakel’s temporary injunction that allowed the funding to continue pending a trial in October on a challenge brought by Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. Planned Parenthood immediately appealed to the full appeals court for a rehearing.
In a one-page order the court gave no reason yesterday for its decision. “U.S. Circuit Judge Grady Jolly checked a box on the page indicating no Fifth Circuit judge had asked that the members of the court be polled on Planned Parenthood’s rehearing petition,” Reuters reported.
This decision, Balch said “protects the state of Texas’ right to have its day in court on the important issue of whether taxpayer dollar have to be used to fund organizations affiliated with abortion.” The ultimate outcome should be clear, Balch said: “There is no right, constitutional or otherwise, to have taxpayers pay for abortion.”
The federal government, which pays for 90 percent of the $39 million-a-year program, “has said it will not renew the funding because Texas decided to enforce a law that had been on the books for several years barring funding for abortion providers and affiliates,” Reuters reported. “ Texas is creating its own program for the women using state funds. It is set to begin November 1.”
The results Thursday were in stark contrast to two recent court decisions. On Tuesday a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s finding that Indiana violated federal regulations when it passed a law that denies state-directed funding for businesses and organizations performing abortions, except for hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers.
That came just three days after U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake issued a temporary injunction preventing the state of Arizona from implementing a new law that bars the state from contracting with or making a grant to any entity that performs an abortion or maintains an abortion facility.