The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has denied Planned Parenthood’s request for a rehearing en banc, thereby upholding the court’s ruling that Texas has the right not to subsidize the life-ending work of abortion-providing organizations such as Planned Parenthood.
This decision comes on the heels of the Seventh Circuit’s ruling striking down an Indiana provision denying funds to abortion providers under the federal Medicaid Act. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the Indiana law, which makes abortion providers ineligible to receive various forms of state funding, conflicts with the federal Medicaid Act’s “free choice of provider” provision (42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23)), which requires states to allow patients to choose their own medical provider in their Medicaid plans. Although we don’t agree with the court’s ruling, the good news is that the court reiterated that the government is not constitutionally required to pay for abortion services.
The Texas provision prohibits entities that provide or promote elective abortions, or that are affiliates of entities that do so, from participating in a Texas Women’s Health program, which expands access to various services for uninsured women who are not currently covered by Medicaid. Since the program was originally jointly funded by Texas and the federal government under a waiver issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal government refused to renew the waiver, claiming that the regulations violate the Medicaid Act’s freedom of choice provision, as in the Indiana case above. In response, Texas decided to continue the program as a fully state-funded program after the current plan expires, thus taking them out of the purview of the Medicaid provision. By denying Planned Parenthood’s request for a rehearing, the Fifth Circuit has correctly ruled that Texas has every right to stop indirectly funding abortion services just as it may decline to do so directly.
We are thrilled with the Fifth Circuit’s decision to deny Planned Parenthood a rehearing and are committed to continue fighting for the rights of unborn children and to end government subsidizing of abortion-providing organizations such as Planned Parenthood.