I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but it's true: the argument between the state of Texas and Planned Parenthood over the Women's Health Program looks like it's never, ever going to end. This case has dragged itself through state courts, federal courts, and back down to the state level again, and neither side is giving an inch. In yet another reversal today, reporters live-tweeting from a hearing in Austin are now reporting that a judge has granted PP a temporary injunction; the nonprofit, once again, can remain in the WHP. For now. However long "now" is, anyway, which in Texas v. Planned Parenthood time is always wildly uncertain.
On October 26, as you probably recall, Governor Rick Perry jubilantly announced Texas would "immediately" defund Planned Parenthood, after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused a request by PP to rehear the case over its ban from the WHP. But Planned Parenthood then promptly filed a lawsuit in Travis County, stating that the ban on "abortion affiliates" keeping them out of the program was invalid under state law. Judge Amy Clark Meachum granted PP a temporary restraining order soon after. Today, Judge Stephen Yelenosky extended to a longer-lasting temporary injunction. The injunction will stand at least until another hearing in mid-December.
Rick Perry wasted no time in reacting to the ruling; in fact, he did so before the judge even issued it.
In a press release issued this morning, Perry claimed the lawsuit is a cynical attempt to buy time. "Venue shopping and courtroom sleight-of-hand in no way helps the women of Texas," he wrote. "We see their stalling tactic for what it is - yet another attempt to unashamedly defy the will of Texas voters and taxpayers."
For now, the WHP is still receiving federal funds. But this whole thing is set to get very sticky on December 31; after months of warning, federal Medicaid officials finally announced today that those federal funds will expire on that date, the Texas Tribune reports.
Perry has insisted that Texas "stands ready" to implement the new, state-funded program, even as his Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek quietly expressed the hope that the federal government would somehow continue giving the state money for a program that the feds believe violates the law.
That won't be happening. In a letter to Texas health officials, Medicaid head Cindy Mann wrote, once again, that the Obama administration really frowns on kicking Planned Parenthood out of the WHP, saying the move "restricts women's ability to receive services from the qualified family planning providers of their choice."
We're pretty sure that's the idea, Cindy. In preparation for future developments in this saga, may we recommend Bleak House? It's about a lawsuit. One that goes on forever.
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