The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] on Thursday declined to reconsider its August decision allowing Texas to impose a funding ban on clinics affiliated with abortion providers under the state's Women's Health Program [official website]. Planned Parenthood [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] had asked the court to reconsider [JURIST report] an injunction against the law until its constitutionality is determined at trial. A US district court found that the Texas law infringed on Planned Parenthood's freedom of speech rights, but the Fifth Circuit disagreed and lifted the injunction [JURIST report] in August, holding that Planned Parenthood is unlikely to succeed on its freedom of speech claim. The court's denial of a rehearing will allow Texas to implement the law immediately. Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] applauded [press release] the court's decision and said the state "will immediately begin defunding all abortion affiliates." If Texas implements the funding cuts, the federal government will no longer fund the state's Women's Health Program, but Perry has promised that he will use state funds [press release] to maintain the program.
This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder] in the US. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Tuesday upheld an injunction [JURIST report] against an Indiana law that would block Medicaid funding for abortion providers. Last week a federal judge blocked a similar bill [JURIST report] that would have defunded Planned Parenthood in Arizona. In August the Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana's Act 490, which allows the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) 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 federal judge blocked a Mississippi law [JURIST report] that would have effectively shut down the state's only abortion clinic.