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Federal appeals court allows Texas to cut Planned Parenthood funding

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] on Tuesday lifted an injunction [opinion, PDF] that blocked a Texas law forbidding any clinic affiliated with abortion providers from receiving public funds. The state of Texas vowed to cut funding for Planned Parenthood [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] after the Fifth Circuit reversed a temporary injunction that allowed state funding for clinics linked to abortion providers to continue until a trial in October on Planned Parenthood's challenge to the law. The Fifth Circuit's decision allows Texas to impose its funding ban on clinics affiliated with abortion providers under the state's Women's Health Program [official website]. On Tuesday Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott [official website] applauded the Fifth Circuit's decision [statement] as a victory for Texas taxpayers. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards condemned the court's decision and the Texas law itself, saying that the law is a political obstacle to women obtaining health care [AP report]. A US district court ruled that the Texas law infringed on Planned Parenthood's freedom of speech rights, but the Fifth Circuit disagreed, holding that Planned Parenthood is unlikely to succeed on its freedom of speech claim.

This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder]. In July a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] declined to block enforcement of a new Arizona abortion regulation [HB 2036 materials; JURIST report] that will ban abortions after 20 weeks unless there is a medical emergency. Earlier in July, a federal judge blocked a Mississippi law [JURIST report] that would have effectively shut down the state's only abortion clinic. Two weeks ago, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt appealed a ruling [JURIST report] by a district court judge that held that an abortion ultrasound bill is unconstitutional. Earlier last month, Louisiana Governor Bob Jindal signed a bill increasing abortion restrictions in the state [JURIST report]. In May, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs [JURIST report] that they "reasonably believe" might result in the termination of a pregnancy. Earlier that month, a judge for the District Court of Oklahoma County ruled [JURIST report] that a law restricting how doctors may use abortion-inducing drugs to treat patients was a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution. In March, Utah passed a law requiring a woman seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours [JURIST report] prior to obtaining the procedure.

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