A federal judge issued an order on Thursday temporarily blocking the State of Texas from terminating Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding. Planned Parenthood sued the State in an effort to regain access to the funds stripped by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).
The court issued its order after hearing three days of testimony this week. The parties called 14 witnesses and admitted 397 exhibits into evidence, one of which was an eight-hour long video.
Given the “mountain of evidence” and what the Court said were “extensive pleadings” in the case, the earliest the Court said it can issue “a complete ruling on the evidence” is February 21. The intent the judge said was to preserve the “status quo” until 5 p.m. on February 21.
As reported by Breitbart Texas on December 21, the State of Texas sent Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas a final notice letter saying it would no longer be able to participate in the State’s Medicaid program. The termination of Planned Parenthood’s enrollment in Texas was “nullified on the effective date of the termination,” the letter stated.
The Office of Inspector General of the HHSC issued an order in October 2015, banning Planned Parenthood from participating in Medicaid programs, as reported by Breitbart Texas. The action notified Planned Parenthood that its affiliates in Texas would have their Medicaid participation cut-off for alleged Medicaid violations. The letter also called for the end to funding by state and local taxpayers of other abortion providers.
Planned Parenthood affiliates across Texas received $4,223,598.69 in Medicaid funding last fiscal year (FY2015).
The letter from the OIG to the Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates provided:
The basis for your termination and the termination of your affiliates stems from an extensive undercover video obtained by the Center for Medical Progress at the Planned Parenthood Gulf Freeway facility in April 2015, which contains evidence that Planned Parenthood violated state and federal law. The evidence arises from detailed discussions with the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s staff. In addition, the United States House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel (House Investigative Panel) uncovered evidence consistent with and supportive of this termination.
The Investigative Panel referred the evidence it found to the Texas Attorney General on December 1, 2016, as reported by Breitbart News. The damning letter by the OIG also stated that “HHSC-IG has evidence that you engaged in misrepresentations about your activity related to fetal tissue procurements, as revealed by evidence provided by the House Investigative Panel.”
Specifically, the letter pointed to “unedited video footage indicat[ing] that Planned Parenthood follows a policy of agreeing to procure fetal tissue, potentially for valuable consideration, even if it means altering the timing or method of an abortion. These practices violate accepted medical standards, as reflected in federal and state law, and are Medicaid program violations that justify termination.”
It also expressly denounced Planned Parenthood’s mega abortion provider in Houston, Texas, saying that the undercover video taken at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast “reveals numerous violations of generally accepted standards of medical practice.” In particular:
- a history of deviating from accepted standards to procure samples that meet researcher’s needs;
- a history of permitting staff physicians to alter procedures to obtain targeted tissue samples needed for their specific outside research;
- a willingness to convert normal pregnancies to the breech position to ensure researchers receive intact specimens;
- an admission that “we get what we need to do to alter the standard of care where we are still maintaining patient safety, still maintaining efficiency in clinic operations, but we integrate research into it;”
- an admission that Planned Parenthood gets requests for “information from our study sponsor on what data they need that is not our standard of care,” and that you provide what is needed by creating a separate research protocol or template that can include medically unnecessary testing; and
- willingness to charge more than the costs incurred for procuring fetal tissue.
It is a violation of the law to sell fetal remains for profit. The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000 (42 U.S.C. 289g-2), as previously reported by Breitbart News.
On August 4, 2015, Breitbart News reported that “A video just released by the Center for Medical Progress taken undercover in Texas shows a Planned Parenthood research director discussing the sale of whole intact aborted babies to a company that resells them to medical researchers.” The video was of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s (PPGC) Director of Research Melissa Farrell. One of the claims that Farrell makes on the tape is that the huge abortion affiliate in Houston has more revenue from research proceeds than all the other Planned Parenthood facilities combined.
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick publicly condemned the video and asked then-Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, a Republican, to conduct an investigation, as reported by Breitbart Texas. Anderson never brought an indictment against the mega-abortion provider; instead, the grand jury indicted the undercover videographers David Daleiden and Susan (Sandra) Merritt for felony tampering with a government record (a false drivers license). Daleiden was also indicted for the misdemeanor charge of offering to buy fetal tissue. The charges were later all dismissed by a judge. Anderson lost her election in November 2016 after she offended pro-lifers, and jailed a rape victim in order to guarantee her testimony at trial, as reported by Breitbart Texas.
U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks’ order provides that the parties may submit additional briefing, including findings of fact and conclusions of law, no later than January 30, 2017.