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
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .