Planned Parenthood files emergency lawsuit to stay in Texas Medicaid program

Planned Parenthood files emergency lawsuit to stay in Texas Medicaid program
© Greg Nash

Planned Parenthood filed an emergency lawsuit Wednesday asking courts to block Texas officials from kicking its clinics out of the state’s Medicaid program. 

State officials had sent a notice to Planned Parenthood providers in January saying they would be terminated from Medicaid, the state-federal health program for the poor, beginning Thursday. 

“For now, if courts don’t immediately step in to block [Texas Gov. Greg] Abbott’s harmful order, 8,000 Texans with low incomes could lose access to critical, life-saving health care, including cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and birth control,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The termination of the relationship between Texas’s Medicaid program and Planned Parenthood is the culmination of a years-long battle between the health care provider and anti-abortion politicians. 

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last year sided with Texas in its efforts to “defund” Planned Parenthood, ending a lengthy legal battle in the state that began under former Gov. Rick PerryRick PerryRepublicans eager to take on Spanberger in Virginia Republicans are the 21st-century Know-Nothing Party College football move rocks Texas legislature MORE (R). 

But Planned Parenthood filed the emergency lawsuit Wednesday asking courts to institute a temporary restraining order, arguing the state violated a technical aspect of the law by failing to issue a “proper termination notice" that included a resolution meeting or hearing. 

The emergency filing is a last-ditch effort by Planned Parenthood to block the termination from taking effect as it awaits potential action from the new Biden administration. 

President Biden issued an executive order recently instructing federal agencies to review policies from the Trump administration that undermine Medicaid or reduce coverage.

Biden has also vowed on the campaign trail to support Planned Parenthood, which conservative lawmakers argue should be blocked from getting state or federal funding because some of its clinics provide abortions. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“Texas’s Medicaid 'defunding' offers a clear example of how critical it is for the Biden-Harris administration to stop attacks that target the reproductive health care of people with low incomes, women, and people of color,” Planned Parenthood said in the statement. 

The Obama administration issued guidance to states in 2016 arguing that under federal law, Medicaid patients have a "free choice of provider" and states cannot disqualify providers from participating in the program for "providing the full range of women's health services." This guidance was rescinded by the Trump administration.

The White House did not respond to a  request for comment. 

While Medicaid rarely pays for abortions, conservatives and the Trump administration argue that any funding flowing to Planned Parenthood indirectly supports the procedure. 

Texas officials also point to undercover videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Numerous bodies have found no wrongdoing on Planned Parenthood’s part.