Planned Parenthood [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday asked the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] to reconsider its ruling which allows Texas to impose a funding ban on clinics affiliated with abortion providers under the state's Women's Health Program [official website]. The court lifted an injunction [JURIST report] in August that blocked the Texas law affecting the program, which also provides cancer screenings, birth control and other health services to women. 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. Planned Parenthood maintains that it does not administer abortions at clinics that participate in the Women's Health Program. The federal government will no longer continue to fund the program if the Texas funding ban law remains in place, though Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] has vowed to use state money [press release] to fund the program. Texas citizens were given an opportunity to present their opinions [Reuters report] on the funding issue at a hearing held at the Department of State Health Services [official website] on Tuesday.
This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder]. In August the Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana's Act 490, which allows the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) [official website] to revoke an abortion clinic's license [JURIST report] immediately after a regulation violation, rather than allowing the abortion clinic time to comply with the regulation. That same month, a Kansas judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the state's new abortion clinic regulations after state officials asked that they be upheld without a trial. 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.