Texas is asking for federal family planning funding to be returned to the state five years after it was pulled by the Obama administration for defunding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
In a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked HHS to reverse the Obama administration's exclusion of Texas from the Title X family planning grant program, which helps fund reproductive health care services for low-income women.
"As the second largest sovereign in the country, with nearly 13 million female residents, your predecessor’s exclusion of Texas from the Title X program is not a badge of honor," Paxton wrote. "A precursor to participation in federal programs should not be an uncompromising commitment to abortion providers."
An HHS spokesperson responded Friday, saying the state is encouraged to submit an application for the funding.
"The State of Texas, along with any other eligible organization, is encouraged to submit a quality application. As stated in the Funding Opportunity Announcement, award decisions will be based on the quality of applications received and eligibility of applicants," the spokesperson said in a statement.
But Paxton wrote in his letter that he questions whether the state's application will be "received with respectful consideration or [with] the same derision of the prior administration."
After Texas banned Planned Parenthood and abortion providers from receiving Title X funding in 2011, the Obama administration, in 2013, opted to award the funding to the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, a coalition of women's health providers.
The organization then subgranted Title X funds out to clinics throughout the state, including Planned Parenthood.
Now, Texas is asking for those funds back. Title X grant recipients must reapply for the funding every year, under new rules set by the Trump administration. Applications for next year's funding are due May 24.
If the Trump administration decides that Texas is eligible for the funding, and approves its application, it would once again give the state the power to strip Planned Parenthood of Title X funding.
Paxton wrote in the letter that recent comments and actions from the administration on abortion funding makes him hopeful.
"In light of the recent statements by both President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE and the Acting [HHS] Secretary Hargan, and communications that Texas officials had with members of your agency last Fall, Texans are encouraged that cooperative participation to accomplish the objectives of the Title X program, is yet again possible," Paxton wrote.
Last year, Trump signed a bill rolling back an Obama-era rule that blocked states from cutting off Title X funding to health-care providers for political reasons.
The state is also asking for the administration to give back millions of dollars in Medicaid family planning the Obama administration stripped from the state in 2013 for defunding Planned Parenthood. In the state's request, it said it would continue to exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving funding.
If approved by the Trump administration, it could set off a wave of similar actions in other states, and more than likely prompt lawsuits from abortion rights groups.
While the administration hasn't ruled on the request yet, in January it rescinded Obama-era guidance that warned states against ending Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.
An HHS official at the time called the move an effort to "roll back regulations the Obama administration put out to radically favor abortion."