Judge blocks Texas plan to cut Planned Parenthood Medicaid funding

Judge blocks Texas plan to cut Planned Parenthood Medicaid funding
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A federal judge on Tuesday halted a Texas plan to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks's preliminary injunction preserves what Planned Parenthood contends are funds to provide cancer screenings, birth control access and other health services for nearly 11,000 low-income women, according to The Associated Press.

Texas originally sought to scrap Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funds in January, but Sparks asked the state to wait until he issued a decision.

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said his office would appeal Tuesday's ruling, saying "the decision is disappointing and flies in the face of basic human decency," according to Reuters.

The decision continues a long-running legal saga in the state.

State health officials had announced in December that Planned Parenthood would no longer receive funding from Texas’s Medicaid program. Officials gave the group 30 days before the change took effect unless Planned Parenthood filed an appeal.

Planned Parenthood originally filed a lawsuit a year ago to try to block Texas from stripping its Medicaid funding, but the lawsuit sat idle before the state issued its final legal notice.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and state health officials first moved to cut Medicaid funding last year after controversial undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials surfaced.

Anti-abortion groups claimed the recordings prove the organization is “harvesting” fetal tissue, while Planned Parenthood has denied allegations surrounding the videos.

The group says its Texas affiliates use Medicaid funding for family planning and women’s health services separate from its abortion services.

The AP added the organization serves only a portion of the 4.3 million people enrolled in Medicaid in Texas and that public funds from the program do not go to abortions there.

Similar defunding efforts have also been blocked in Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, while anti-abortion activists are pressuring President Trump to cut off all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says such a move on a national level would cut nearly $400 million in Medicaid money to the group and result in about 400,000 women losing access to healthcare.