It isn't over yet: Judge temporarily blocks Texas from defunding Planned Parenthood abortion business

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about Texas defunding Planned Parenthood’s abortion business by denying Medicaid payments to the organization. Oh, it was just yesterday. Nevermind. The story isn’t finished yet.

Yesterday was supposed to be the official end to Planned Parenthood’s participation in the state’s Medicaid program. Just like that, a last-minute lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood affiliates on Wednesday. This battle isn’t over yet. State District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, a Democrat, issued a 14-day temporary restraining order blocking the move just hours before it went into effect. The judges of the Texas District Courts are chosen in elections. Guerra Gamble assumed office on January 1, 2019.

The argument put forward in Planned Parenthood’s emergency lawsuit is a technical argument. It claims that state officials had not issued notifications in accordance with state law. Judge Guerra Gamble ruled in favor of the request for a restraining order. The state provided a two-month window for enforcing the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that overturned a lower court’s ruling that blocked the state’s effort last November. Planned Parenthood wants six months to help transition patients to other abortion providers. Planned Parenthood claims that about 8,000 Medicaid patients would be affected by the state’s decision to end the payments.

Planned Parenthood said the state’s decision will disproportionately impact Black, Latina and indigenous women who are more likely to rely on safety-net health programs after years of discriminatory practices. Texas has the most stringent requirements for Medicaid in the country, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, barring access to single parents who make well below the federal poverty line.

“It’s one more assault against the same communities that face unjust, systemic barriers to basic human rights, including access to affordable health care, education, and housing,” Planned Parenthood said in announcing the new lawsuit.

To recap how Texas got here, in 2015 the state tried to take Planned Parenthood’s abortion business out of its Medicaid program. After videos showing Planned Parenthood officials allegedly admitting that organ harvesting from aborted babies was happening, the state moved to stop taxpayer-funded abortions. Planned Parenthood and 10 unnamed patients filed a federal lawsuit asking a judge to force the state to continue its $3 million annual reimbursements for its services for about 13,500 Texans. This set off a five-year legal battle, which now continues.

In response to the judge’s temporary restraining order issued Wednesday, the president of Planned Parenthood’s political action committee, Alexis McGill Johnson issued a statement. Guess who she at least partially blames? Yep. Donald Trump. You can’t make up this stuff – the off-the-charts level of Trump Derangement Syndrome dogma lives loudly within the Democrat Party, even now.

“Let’s be clear: Gov. Abbott, emboldened by the Trump legacy, is harming the same people who are struggling the most to survive this pandemic,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in news release announcing the lawsuit. “By forcing people – disproportionately Black and Brown people, essential workers, and single parents – to go without critical health care, his administration is jeopardizing their futures, safety, and ability to control their own bodies.”

“Planned Parenthood will use every tool we have to ensure patients have the care they need, where they need it,” added Johnson.

Nothing like a pandemic to justify more abortions, right? That is apparently the message now, along with the standard claims of racism. The battle continues. A hearing is scheduled for the day the court order expires, February 17.