Federal judge halts Texas law against Planned Parenthood

A federal judge has issued an injunction against a Texas law that would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving state funds because it provides abortions.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel will make a final decision after hearing full arguments in the case.

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Planned Parenthood called the initial ruling a "victory" that will allow thousands of low-income women continued access to cancer screenings, annual exams and birth control.

"For many women, we are the only doctor’s visit they will have this year," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

"This ruling affirms what women have known all along: politics simply doesn’t have a place in women’s health," she said.

The law under scrutiny prohibited Texas state funding for organizations that provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. It passed last year.

Eight Planned Parenthood clinics in the state that do not provide abortions sued in response, arguing that the law punishes them for associating with segments of Planned Parenthood that do provide abortions — thus violating the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of free association and equal protection under the law. 

The complaint also noted that in 2011, Texas's family-planning program was "cut by two thirds" — from $111.5 million in 2010-2011 to $37.9 million — in the two years that followed.

The state of funding for women's health services appeared to make a difference to Yeakel, who wrote: "The court is particularly influenced by the potential for immediate loss of access to necessary medical services by several thousand Texas women."

Texas has threatened to shut down its Women's Health Program altogether if it is forced to give funds to Planned Parenthood, reports stated.