Planned Parenthood Petitions Fifth Circuit to Rehear En Banc Decision Restricting Texas Women's Access to Health Care
Petition to Court Comes Hours after Testimony to State Health Officials to Protect Access to Care
AUSTIN, TX -- This afternoon, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas filed a petition to ask the entire Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the State of Texas's appeal of a preliminary injunction that blocked a rule barring Planned Parenthood from participating in the Women's Health Program. On August 21, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's preliminary injunction, and found that barring providers with the name "Planned Parenthood" from the Women's Health Program likely does not violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In the petition filed today, Planned Parenthood argues the three-judge panel made exceptional mistakes, in violation of Supreme Court precedent, that warrant closer review by the full court.
Separately, earlier today, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas also offered testimony to the Texas Department of State Health Services on its proposed rule for its new Texas Women's Health Program designed to bar Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas from that program as well. The proposal would create a 100 percent state-funded Texas Women's Health Program -- all so they can try to kick Planned Parenthood out, eliminating the provider of choice of nearly 50,000 low-income women enrolled. The Texas Women's Health Program will cost Texas taxpayers at least $150 million to replace federal funding which the State lost because it limited women's access to their choice of provider. If Texas officials would restore this choice for women, 90 percent of that cost would be borne by the federal government.
Statement from Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Texas:
"We are fighting for the tens of thousands of Texas women who turn to Planned Parenthood health centers for preventive health care they can't get anywhere else. Planned Parenthood will do whatever we can to ensure that women will get the health care they need and deserve from their trusted health care provider.
"As a leading provider and advocate for women's health across the state, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand the Women's Health Program so often makes the difference between access to cancer screenings and birth control, or going without."
Planned Parenthood has asked the full Fifth Circuit to re-hear the case because the decision of the three-judge panel conflicts with Supreme Court precedent. Under that precedent, the rule barring Planned Parenthood providers from the Women's Health Program violates their First Amendment rights to speech and association because it bars their participation in that program due to their constitutionally protected conduct in which they engage using only their own private funds.
En banc review is also needed to protect low-income Texas women's access to needed preventive health care such as breast exams, birth control, pap tests and STD screenings to nearly 50,000 low-income Texas women.
An estimated 160,000 women are already going without preventive health care this year because of Texas officials' politically-motivated budget cuts to family planning, which have already caused 60 women's health care centers to close statewide. Nationally, every $1.00 invested in helping women avoid pregnancies they did not want to have saved nearly $4.00 in Medicaid expenditures that otherwise would have been needed.
Research by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services found other providers would have to expand their capacity to serve these women five-fold in order to offset the loss of Planned Parenthood health centers ("An Early Assessment of the Potential Impact of Texas' 'Affiliation' Regulation on Access to Care for Low-Income Women," by Sara Rosenbaum, J.D., et al. firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-994-4230).
Texas ranks in the top ten nationally in terms of its cervical cancer rate and has the highest rate of uninsured women. In July, Texas was ranked worst in the nation in health care services and delivery, according to an annual scorecard issued by the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. Governor Perry also publicly stated he would not expand Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act, which means many women and families in need of health care will continue to be left behind in Texas.
Planned Parenthood Affiliates in Texas are being represented by attorneys with the Texas firm Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.