Attorney General Ken Paxton last Friday urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to stay a U.S. District Court’s unlawful injunction and allow Texas to immediately end taxpayer payments to Planned Parenthood through the state’s Medicaid program.
Last month, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit unanimously lifted the district court’s injunction, ruling that it applied the wrong legal standard. With that victory in hand, Texas has now asked the entire 5th Circuit to resolve conflicting law on the issue of whether the plaintiffs in the case could even bring suit in the first place. But while the court considers that issue, the unlawful injunction forces the state to continue allowing Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates to provide Medicaid services and pay them millions of dollars in reimbursements, despite the state’s determination that they violated medical and ethical standards.
“There is no justification for continuing to prevent Texas from terminating Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program when the 5th Circuit has already determined that the district court’s injunction was unlawful,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Planned Parenthood’s reprehensible conduct, captured in undercover videos, proves that it is not a ‘qualified’ provider under the Medicaid Act. Continuing to provide taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood is harmful to the program and violates the conscience rights of Texans.”
During oral argument before the 5th Circuit last June, Attorney General Paxton’s legal team recounted raw, unedited footage from eight hours of undercover video showing violations of medical and ethical standards by Texas Planned Parenthood officials. The footage was also described in the 5th Circuit’s subsequent opinion, including a still shot from the video showing the aftermath of a second trimester abortion. In the video, Planned Parenthood employees admit that some doctors performed abortions to obtain fetal tissue for their own research and would manipulate the timing and methods of abortions. Federal laws prohibit researchers from performing abortions to secure fetal tissue for their own research under such circumstances, and prohibits modifying abortion procedures to obtain tissue for research purposes.
In December 2016, the inspector general of Texas Health and Human Services removed Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program for the video footage of actions that “violate generally accepted medical standards,” and for making false statements to law enforcement. Despite that, Planned Parenthood has received around $3.4 million a year in Texas Medicaid funding pursuant to the unlawful injunction.
To view a copy of the brief, click here.
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