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Planned Parenthood wins 1st round of TX funding fight

AUSTIN, Texas (BP) — A federal judge on Jan. 19 blocked an effort by the state of Texas to strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid funding.

State officials announced plans last month to cut $3 million in funding, the final step in a long process to pull all government money from the nation’s largest abortion provider. In 2010, Planned Parenthood centers in Texas received $27 million in state funding.

Texas launched its final defunding effort after the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress released a series of undercover videos that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood executives and abortionists discussing methods for procuring aborted baby body parts for companies that sell them to researchers. A subsequent congressional investigation reportedly showed tissue providers made massive profits from body parts collected at Planned Parenthood centers.

“Your willingness to engage in these practices violates generally accepted medical standards, and thus you are not qualified to provide medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner,” Texas Health and Human Services Commission Inspector General Stuart Bowen wrote in a letter to Planned Parenthood last month.

But U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks chastised state lawyers for relying so heavily on the CMP videos as evidence. He called the videos “baloney” in regard to the Medicaid question, ordering attorneys to provide more information about the types of services Planned Parenthood provides in exchange for Medicaid money.

Although the abortion giant has yet to face prosecution for its role in the fetal tissue industry, the U.S. House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives referred Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to the Texas attorney general for criminal prosecution earlier this month.

Texas is not the only state to see its defunding efforts halted by the courts. Similar measures in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi all ended in legal challenges. The Obama administration also fought to block state efforts to shrink Planned Parenthood’s income from taxpayers.

But pro-life advocates expect a drastic change under the new Trump administration and the new Republican-controlled Congress. In 2015, lawmakers passed a measure to reallocate Planned Parenthood funding to federally qualified health centers that don’t perform abortions. Former President Barack Obama vetoed it, but President Donald Trump has said he would support a similar bill.

The Texas defunding effort was set to go into effect this month. Sparks postponed it until Feb. 21, but he likely will rule on the legality of the measure before then.