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Federal appeals court hears arguments on Texas defunding Planned Parenthood

[JURIST] A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] heard [argument, MP3] oral arguments on Monday concerning Texas's attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood [advocacy website].

Texas is appealing [brief, PDF] a lower court injunction that prevents them from denying Medicaid coverage to Planned Parenthood.

The appellant's argument focused on allegations that the Texas branch of Planned Parenthood "violated acceptable medical and ethical standards" by misleading patients regarding fetal tissue donation and modifying abortion procedures for the sole purpose of obtaining fetal tissue. Texas alleges that Planned Parenthood employees discuss their unethical procedures to obtain tissue samples in a 2015 videotape.

The Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton [official website] said [press release] "Planned Parenthood's shocking and repugnant conduct, captured in the raw video footage, proves that it is not a 'qualified' provider under the Medicaid Act."

Planned Parenthood maintains that the video is "fraudulent and deceptively edited." After the video was shot in 2015, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas said [press release] "Our health centers and ambulatory surgical centers do not participate in any tissue research programs, though tissue donation is a recognized, standard practice within the medical community."

The same day that the Fifth Circuit heard oral arguments, the US Supreme Court [JURIST report] vacated a case that would have decided whether undocumented minors have the right to an abortion on the grounds of mootness. Last week the governor of Louisiana signed [JURIST report] a measure to ban abortion after 15 weeks. Last month the Supreme Court declined [JURIST report] to hear a case challenging an Arkansas law that requires abortion providers to have an agreement with another doctor who can admit the patient in case of an emergency.


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