This is potentially good news out of Texas:
A federal judge in Austin ruled today that state officials cannot exclude Planned Parenthood from a health care and contraception program for low-income women, a state health official says. [...]
[Judge] Yeakel granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary injunction to allow it to continue serving women, and being reimbursed, under the program, according to Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Yeakel will have to hold a hearing before the injunction could become permanent.
Under state rules adopted in February, Planned Parenthood would have been excluded from participating in the program tomorrow.
That would be the Women’s Health Program, which provides health care to 130,000 low-income women in Texas, whom Gov. Rick Perry thinks should take a backseat to his agenda to screw over Planned Parenthood to prove how super pro-lifey he is. Planned Parenthood filed suit earlier this month after a court ruled that Gov. Perry’s arbitrary new rule prohibiting Medicaid recipients from going to Planned Parenthood for basic health care is totally okay because, um, well, because that’s why so shut up and freedom.
The new policy blatantly violates federal law and jeopardized all federal funding for the state’s Medicaid program, as Perry and his fellow anti-woman Republicans knew full well because Health and Human Services spelled it out for them in really small words:
Medicaid law is very clear; a state may not restrict patients’ choice of providers of services like mammograms and other cancer screenings, if those providers are qualified to deliver care covered by Medicaid.
But since screwing over Planned Parenthood is far more important than ensuring funding of the state’s health care programs for low-income women, Perry and state health officials blew off the warning from the federal government and said they’ll use Republican magic fairy dust to somehow make up the $ 35 million difference.
But apparently, they’re fresh out of fairy dust, because now state officials are singing a different tune:
According to Tom Suehs, executive director of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, state law bans abortion providers and their affiliates – specifically Planned Parenthood – from participating in the program.
“If plaintiffs obtain an injunction forbidding state officials to exclude Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program or any similar successor programs, state law will require the commission to cease operating the program upon termination of federal funding,” Suehs told Yeakel in an affidavit.
So those earlier assurances that the state will find a way to keep the program going turned out to be, shockingly, bullshit. Rick Perry will stick it to Planned Parenthood no matter what, even if it means losing federal funding and screwing over 130,000 poor women in Texas.
So why is the court’s decision today to bar the state from barring Planned Parenthood only potentially good news? Because the state is almost certain to appeal this decision, and Texas courts have a funny way of deciding that screwing over women is totally constitutional. But for today, at least, there are 130,000 women in Texas who just might get to have health care after all.