Planned Parenthood

Reaction mixed over abortion ruling

The political reaction was quick to today’s court ruling that parts of the state’s abortion law are unconsitutional.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry indicated the abortion debate does not end with Monday’s decision.

“Today’s decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren’t exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently,” the governor said in a press release. “We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans.”

Democratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio also issued a statement soon after the ruling.

“I’m grateful that a Texas court agreed today that House Bill 2 would have had harmful effects on women’s access to care and affirmed that the Republican-controlled Legislature went too far in its attacks on women” she said. Van de Putte is considering a run for lieutenant governor.

Planned Parenthood calls abortion legislation ‘devastating’

Planned Parenthood and other women’s groups have been staunchly opposed to the new abortion regulations. Cecile Richards, who is the President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, traveled to Austin to attend several of the protests and to observe the action on the House and Senate floors. She issued this statement: 

“The bill signed into law by Governor Perry today makes a terrible situation for women’s health even worse. Already, Rick Perry and other politicians have cut more than 130,000 Texas women off from basic preventive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings and well-woman check-ups, and this new law will severely limit access to safe and legal abortion, which will cause women to resort to desperate and dangerous measures. These relentless attacks on women’s health have a devastating impact on women who already have the least access to health care.

“Doctors oppose this law because they know it will hurt their patients, and the public overwhelmingly opposes these attacks on women’s health. In Texas alone, 80 percent of voters oppose special session passage of the bill Governor Perry signed today, which is why the governor and his allies had to break the rules and shut down the democratic process to push this through the State Legislature.

“The fight over this law will move to the courts, while the bigger fight for women’s access to health care in Texas gains steam. People are enraged by this law, and it has created a whole new generation of activists who are in it for the long run to elect leaders who will protect women’s health.”


Capital Tonight: All eyes on Texas as new session is called

Back to Work

Summer isn’t starting just yet for Texas lawmakers.

After a grueling, 10-hour filibuster helped kill a controversial abortion bill, Gov. Rick Perry is telling lawmakers to get back to work. Wednesday, he announced that a second special session will start July 1. In addition to the abortion bill, the governor is adding back the two other issues that failed overnight dealing with transportation funding and juvenile justice.

Even after Republicans succeeded in ending Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster, confusion and the clock eventually doomed the bills, but the end result wasn’t immediately clear, even to lawmakers.

National Attention

As the filibuster stretched past the halfway mark, we had a chance to visit with Cecile Richards, the national president for Planned Parenthood, who flew in to lend support to Sen. Davis.

She talked about what her mother, the late Gov. Ann Richards, would have thought about the grassroots movement among abortion-rights advocates that reached the Capitol.

DOMA Decision

The Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act and also dealt a blow to California’s gay marriage ban, in a ruling that will eventually allow same-sex spouses who are legally married to receive federal benefits.

We talked to a Texas couple about what the decision means to them.

Capital Tonight: Debating Medicaid expansion

Hundreds of activists rallied outside the Texas Capitol Thursday, as part of Planned Parenthood lobbying day.

This year’s efforts had particular urgency, now that the organization has been cut out of the state’s Women’s Health Program. A bill making its way through the House aims to reverse that decision and bring back federal and state funding.


Debating Medicaid

Another question looming the 83rd Legislative Session is this: Should Texas expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act?

Proponents say it would pull down billions in federal dollars to help the uninsured. Critics, including the governor, say it forces Texas to spend too much money on a program that needs serious reform.

We spoke to John Davidson from the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Anne Dunkleberg from the Center for Public Policy Priorities about the research behind the debate.

After the filibuster

Sen. Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster Wednesday made national headlines. It also resulted in a new bill, proposed by Sen. Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, that would explicitly outlaw a drone killing on U.S. soil of an American citizen who doesn’t represent an imminent threat. 

Our Capital Commentators weighed in on the significance of the filibuster and the proposed bill.

Click the image below to watch Thursday’s full episode.

Perry reacts to Planned Parenthood decision

A state district court denied Planned Parenthood’s request to participate in the Texas Women’s Health Program on Friday. Gov. Perry’s office released the following statement:

“This is great news for Texas women and further proves that Planned Parenthood’s case attempting to derail the Texas Women’s Health Program lacks merit and is nothing more than a desperate move by an organization more concerned with obtaining taxpayer money than with helping women get care. With this ruling, our state can continue caring for Texas women.”

Planned Parenthood loses appeal

Planned Parenthood today lost its latest appeal in its fight to receive state funding as part of the Women’s Health Program.  State District Judge Steve Yelenosky said he denied the injunction because Planned Parenthood would likely lost at trial. 

In a statement, Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek applauded the ruling, saying:

“This allows us to continue to provide important family planning and preventive care to low-income women and fully enforce state law. We’ve got the Texas Women’s Health Program up and running, and we’ll continue to provide help to any woman who needs to find a new doctor or clinic.”

Planned Parenthood resumes court battle

Planned Parenthood is resuming its fight to be included in the Texas Woman’s Health Program.  Attorneys are back in court today to ask a judge to issue an injunction, clearing the way for Planned Parenthood to receive state funding.

Planned Parenthood was cut out of the program on January 1.  At issue is state law banning clinics affiliated with abortion providers from receiving taxpayer money – even if the clinics themselves do not provide abortions.  As a result of the state’s so-called ‘affiliate ban rule,’ Texas lost federal funding for women’s health care.  Instead, the state is moving forward with its own self-funded program.

Planned Parenthood sued, claiming the new rule violates state and federal law and discriminates against health care providers.

Last month, a Travis County District Judge turned down Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order; clearing the way for the Health and Human Services Commission to cut off funding.  Today, Planned Parenthood is asking for a permanent injunction banning the state from excluding it from the program until a trial can be held.



Judge grants Planned Parenthood injunction

Our Sebastian Robertson has more in the video above.

Planned Parenthood will continue to receive state funding, at least until its lawsuit is settled or a possible appeal is granted. District Judge Stephen Yelenosky issued an injunction today, banning the state from excluding Planned Parenthood from the Women’s Health Program.

Under new rules, the state was set to exclude Planned Parenthood from the program, which provides services to low-income women.

Gov. Rick Perry and Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek have cited state law that bans public money from funding clinics affiliated with abortion providers — even if the clinics don’t actually perform abortions. Planned Parenthood sued, claiming the new rule violates state and federal law and discriminates against health care providers.

The state’s decision to implement the new rules prompted the federal government to cut off funding to the program. The money was set to stop flowing on Dec. 31. The state, meanwhile, says it is prepared to move forward with its own 100 percent, state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program. That program was scheduled to launch on Nov. 1, but was postponed due to the temporary restraining order.

It’s still not clear how Gov. Rick Perry will respond to today’s injunction. He said he would shut down the program altogether if the state was forced to include clinics affiliated with abortion providers.

The state will almost certainly appeal.

Judge hearing Planned Parenthood injunction request

Planned Parenthood is hoping a judge will extend a temporary restraining order banning the state from excluding its clinics from the Women’s Health Program.

The organization argues federal law prohibits such discrimination against health care providers. District Judge Amy Clark Meachum initially issued a temporary restraining order two weeks ago. Attorneys are back in court Thursday to ask for an extension, ensuring their clinics are funded throughout the court proceedings.

At the heart of the issue is a move by the Texas Legislature in 2011 to further clarify the law governing the Medicaid Women’s Health Program. The Republican-led legislature moved to exclude organizations affiliated with abortion providers from receiving state subsidies, even if those clinics do not actually perform abortions. By excluding those providers, the state stands to lose $40 million in federal funding on Dec. 31.

The state, meanwhile, says it is prepared to move forward with its own 100 percent, state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program. That program was scheduled to launch on Nov. 1, but was postponed due to the temporary restraining order.

Gov. Perry has said the result of Thursday’s hearing will give the state a better idea how to move forward. He has promised the state will shut down the health care program altogether, if the court rules the state must include Planned Parenthood.

Thursday’s hearing was initially expected to be over by about noon. Instead, the judge called for a recess until 1:15 p.m.

We are expecting to hear from Gov. Perry this afternoon. He already released this statement, calling on Planned Parenthood to abandon its case:

“Planned Parenthood has finally acknowledged what we have known from the very beginning – their constitutional challenge is flawed on its face. Venue shopping and courtroom sleight-of-hand in no way helps the women of Texas. We see their stalling tactic for what it is – yet another attempt to unashamedly defy the will of Texas voters and taxpayers.”

Perry criticizes Planned Parenthood lawsuit

Gov. Rick Perry is weighing in on a lawsuit filed today by Planned Parenthood over the state’s "Affiliate Rules Ban." He accused the organization of being "more concerned about its own interests than those of Texas women." His full statement is below.

“If there was ever any doubt that Planned Parenthood is more concerned about its own interests than those of Texas women, there is no longer. Having lost on its constitutional claims, Planned Parenthood has now turned to Travis County judges in a desperate effort to find some way to keep making money off Texas taxpayers. In Texas, we’ve chosen to protect innocent life. We will keep fighting for life, and we will ultimately prevail.”