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'Not a Healthcare Giant, an Abortion Giant': Judge Blocks Planned Parenthood Effort to Get Medicaid Cash in TX

03-11-2021

A Texas judge decided Wednesday not to interfere in the state's attempt to remove Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid health care provider options. 

The Austin American-Statesman reports state District Judge Lora Livingston said Planned Parenthood did not prove its case. The nation's largest abortion provider had argued that state officials did not provide proper notice in January when they told the company to find new doctors and clinics for 8,000 Medicaid clients.

Livingston had previously halted Planned Parenthood's removal to give her time to study the case and render a decision. The judge's order did not specify how long the abortion provider will be able to continue to schedule and see Medicaid patients. 

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Planned Parenthood officials blamed their court loss on Gov. Greg Abbott and his attempts to boot the organization from the state's Medicaid program. 

The battle is not over though. The abortion provider said the ruling puts Texas in violation of an executive order, signed last month by President Joe Biden, that said states cannot refuse Medicaid funding for specific providers, including Planned Parenthood. 

Planned Parenthood officials have not announced if they plan to appeal the judge's ruling. 

The legal fight to remove the abortion provider from the Texas Medicaid program began in 2015 when state officials complained after an undercover video shot by pro-life activists surfaced showing Houston Planned Parenthood clinic officials agreeing to illegal activity, such as changing abortion procedures to better acquire fetal tissue for researchers, according to the American-Statesman.

Planned Parenthood denied the allegations and sued. In 2017, a federal district judge agreed the organization should remain in the state's Medicaid program, saying the video showed no proof of illegal activity. 

The state of Texas disagreed with the decision and appealed. Last December, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the state's favor.  State health officials then gave Planned Parenthood a Feb. 4 deadline to find new providers for its Medicaid patients. 

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director herself and founder of And Then There Were None, released a statement applauding the judge's decision.

"Planned Parenthood is not a healthcare giant - they are an abortion giant, cornering more than 40 percent of the abortion market in this country. Preventative care, prenatal care, pap smears, STD testing, and cancer screenings are all a very small part of their overall operations and declines nearly every year," Johnson said. 

"And when Planned Parenthood does provide that care and bills Medicaid, they have proven to be reckless with taxpayer dollars, overbilling by millions and millions of dollars. Medicaid funds should be given to actual healthcare facilities that provide needed services for women and their families, which Planned Parenthood does not do. I hope that this decision in Texas paves the way for other states to follow and deny Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood," she concluded. 

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