Planned Parenthood and its affiliate clinics will not receive funding from the Women’s Health Program while the organization challenges a 2005 ban preventing Texas state funds from going to organizations that provide or associate with clinics that offer abortions.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of New Orleans unanimously agreed Aug. 21 to reverse a decision from a lower court that would have continued funding through October, when Planned Parenthood is set to go before a federal court to argue that their freedom of speech has been violated as a result of the law.
The new decision now clears the way for the Women’s Health Program, a Texas program for women who cannot afford health services, to break monetary ties with Planned Parenthood and any partners that refer patients or form contracts with the company.
“It is shocking that politics would get in the way of women receiving access to basic health care,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told ABC News.
Richards said the court battle isn’t about the company, but rather “the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control and well-woman exams.”
Aside from abortion services, which aren’t provided at every clinic or made available to women with money from the state health program, Planned Parenthood offers family planning services, cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Still, pro-life supporters and conservative lawmakers see the decision as a major step in the right direction.
“Today’s ruling affirms that Texas’ Women’s Health Program has no obligation to fund organizations that promote abortion—including Planned Parenthood,” Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement.
“The 5th Circuit’s decision is a win for Texas women, our rule of law and our state’s priority to protect life,” Perry said. “We will continue to work with Attorney General Abbott in the fight to defend our state laws.”
The Women’s Health Program was created in 2005 and is overseen by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the program is a sponsored in large part not by state money, but by federal funds, with $5 million coming from the state and $35 million coming from the federal government.
As a result of conservative Texan lawmakers enforcing the ban and cutting out Planned Parenthood services, according to the Times, this year will be the last year the Women’s Health Program receives federal monies.