Court Rules Texas May Defund Planned Parenthood

Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August.
Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Texas may defund Planned Parenthood by eliminating the abortion provider’s Medicaid funding.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overruled the lower district court’s decision.

The ruling applies to Louisiana as well.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cited undercover video showing Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue trafficking activities in his statement asserting the organization is not “qualified” to receive taxpayer funds:

The Fifth Circuit correctly rejected Planned Parenthood’s efforts to prevent Texas from excluding them from the state’s Medicaid program. Undercover video plainly showed Planned Parenthood admitting to morally bankrupt and unlawful conduct, including violations of federal law by manipulating the timing and methods of abortions to obtain fetal tissue for their own research. Planned Parenthood is not a ‘qualified’ provider under the Medicaid Act, and it should not receive public funding through the Medicaid program.

Chief Judge Priscilla Owen, a George W. Bush appointee, was joined by a panel of other judges in her opinion that individual patients are not involved in the decision of which providers are qualified to receive taxpayer funds.

“[T]he Medicaid Act leaves it up to a State to determine if a particular provider’s Medicaid agreement should be terminated because the provider is not ‘qualified’ or terminated on other grounds,” Owen wrote, adding:

A Medicaid patient is not involved in a provider’s willingness to accept Medicaid procedures, regulations, and reimbursement rates. Additionally, whether a provider is “qualified” is largely a factual determination with the facts more readily available to the provider, not the Medicaid patient. If a state agency or actor determines that a particular provider is not qualified, in most if not all cases, it is the provider who has the most incentive to contest such a finding and to seek a resolution.

Planned Parenthood used the coronavirus pandemic in its talking points that condemned the decision. CEO Alexis McGill Johnson argued that individual patients have the right to decide who is qualified to be their Medicaid provider of choice:

“As much as abortion advocates will cry this decision hurts the poor and oppressed, Planned Parenthood has been repeatedly caught abusing the very same medical program that is indeed supposed to help low-income families,” said Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood manager-turned pro-life activist.

Johnson continued regarding how taxpayer funds can be used to pay for abortions at Planned Parenthood:

They paid $4.3 million to the federal government and Texas in 2013 for Medicaid fraud and as of 2017, 51 known external reviews and audits showed Medicaid overbilling at nearly every clinic that was investigated. And money that comes into Planned Parenthood, no matter the source, is put into one pot and from there is distributed for everything the clinic needs to stay afloat, including abortions. Taxpayer money, even in the form of Medicaid, pays for abortions.

Johnson observed that Planned Parenthood’s own annual reports demonstrate the organization’s other health services have dropped significantly as abortions have increased.

“Where is all that money going?” she asked. “Women are just a number for Planned Parenthood, a number that will increase their bottom line no matter what. Medicaid funding needs to go to those who need it, not to so-called health clinics who have perfected the practice of abusing the system to the detriment of the very women they claim to serve.”

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