After a federal appeals court rejected Planned Parenthood's challenge to a ban on government funding for the state's women's health clinics on Friday, Planned Parenthood immediately filed another lawsuit contesting the ban. In the new lawsuit, Planned Parenthood argues that the "Affiliate Ban Rule" is illegal on the grounds that the appeals court ruling has only been approved on the state level, yet requires federal approval according to Texas state law. Following Planned Parenthood's challenge, a Texas judge has issued a temporary restraining order which will remain in place until the court's November 8th hearing.
Pete Schenkkan, a Planned Parenthood attorney, argues the appeals court ruling is "invalid under state law and, most importantly, threatens the integrity of the program and harms women who rely on Planned Parenthood, the provider of choice for nearly half of the patients who receive basic, preventive health care in the Women's Health Program."
Although the state had planned to launch the new Texas Women's Health Program that excludes clinics like Planned Parenthood from participating, a Texas Health and Human Services Commission agency spokeswoman confirmed that the changes will not be implemented until the case is resolved in court. In the meantime, Planned Parenthood clinics and other abortion service providers will be allowed to continue participating in the program.
Planned Parenthood continues to emphasize the importance of being included in the Texas' Women's Health Program as it offers a wide range of health care services to 50,000 low income citizens in a state where one quarter of women are uninsured. A recent George Washington University study has found that Texas will be unable to make up for the loss of care by Planned Parenthood, which serves 40% of all low-income women who utilize the Women's Health Program.
Media Resources: Planned Parenthood 10/26/12; Texas Tribune 10/31/12
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .