A federal appeals court upheld Texas’ right not to give Planned Parenthood taxpayer money Tuesday, a blow to the abortion provider's bottom line.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a district court judge’s earlier temporary injunction that forced Texas to fund Planned Parenthood.
Texas law has always prohibited state agencies from contracting with “entities that perform or promote elective abortions or are affiliates of entities that perform or promote elective abortions.” But until Gov. Rick Perry’s administration, the statute was never given force with an implementing regulation.
In 2011, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (THHSC) issued new regulations defining “promote” in the statute to include “advertising or publicity” that “popularizes” elective abortions. Nine Planned Parenthood organizations then sued to stop enforcement of the new regulations arguing that the new regulations violated their First Amendment rights. The appeals court rejected that argument Tuesday:
The right to obtain an abortion and any accompanying right to perform an abortion are not at issue in this appeal. … Although this restriction functions as a speech-based funding condition, it also functions as a direct regulation of the content of a state program, and is therefore constitutional… The authority of Texas to disfavor abortion within its own subsidized program is not violative of the First Amendment right.
Following the ruling, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said, “So far, President Obama has been able to rely only upon his executive office and the courts in order to force taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood against the will of state legislators. Ignoring grassroots is a losing game. In this time of financial crisis, states like Texas should have the right to prioritize their health care funding, placing whole women’s health care, primary care, first. The Fifth Circuit court and, we believe, others will reveal this further. Abortion-centered organizations like Planned Parenthood do not deserve taxpayer dollars.”