Texas Can Oust Planned Parenthood From Medicaid Program, Judge Rules

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
March 11, 2021 Updated: March 11, 2021

A state judge ruled on March 10 that Texas can remove Planned Parenthood and its affiliates from its Medicaid program.

Texas had previously given Medicaid recipients using Planned Parenthood a Feb. 3 deadline to find new health care providers. Planned Parenthood challenged that in its recent lawsuit, which argued that the state didn’t follow the law when it issued a 30-day notice of termination to the organization.

Judge Lora Livingston from Travis County said in her ruling that the groups were unable to demonstrate their claim that the state had failed to provide proper notice in January when it gave the organization a deadline to find new health care providers, according to Austin American Stateman.

“This decision is not made lightly,” the ruling stated, according to media outlets that have reviewed the ruling. “In the light of the ongoing public health crisis, the risks of the individual losing health care and medical attention requires increased attention and scrutiny. The facts underlying the termination, in this case, give me great pause.

“However, Relators selected the federal courts as the forum to contest the merits of their claims, and they are now not able to revive their administrative remedies as the deadline to seek that relief has long since passed. The merits of their claims must be determined by the federal courts.”

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in 2020 that Texas and Louisiana could withhold taxpayer funds from Planned Parenthood clinics.

At the time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton welcomed the ruling, saying that the appeals court “correctly rejected Planned Parenthood’s efforts to prevent Texas from excluding them from the state’s Medicaid program.”

“Undercover video plainly showed Planned Parenthood admitting to morally bankrupt and unlawful conduct, including violations of federal law by manipulating the timing and methods of abortions to obtain fetal tissue for their own research,” he said.

He added that the organization isn’t a “qualified” provider under the Medicaid Act, and shouldn’t receive funding through the state’s Medicaid program.

The organization was previously the subject of a scandal after the nonprofit Center for Medical Progress released covertly shot videos of its undercover investigation, which showed Planned Parenthood executives discussing the practice of providing body parts of aborted babies for research. The organization has disputed the claims.

Following the federal court ruling, the state gave Planned Parenthood and its affiliates a deadline to find new health care providers.

The pro-abortion organization subsequently filed an emergency request to the state court on Feb. 3 to prevent Texas from going through with its decision to withhold federal funding to Planned Parenthood clinics, which provide wider access to abortion, birth control, and other procedures.

The judge at the time agreed to grant a temporary restraining order that delayed the state from withholding funds from Planned Parenthood.

Dyana Limon-Mercado, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, responded to the ruling by accusing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott of failing to do what’s best for the people of Texas.

“The 8,000 Planned Parenthood patients who rely on Medicaid should be able to access care at the provider they know and trust. Planned Parenthood will do everything it can to protect and fight for its patients,” Limon-Mercado said in the statement.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.