A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Texas and Louisiana can cut off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics, reversing earlier decisions stemming from legal battles over abortion.
Opponents of legal abortion have long sought to deny federal Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood because some Planned Parenthood affiliated clinics perform abortions. Abortion rights supporters and advocates for women's health have argued that the move also would deny needy women the right to choose their providers for a variety of vital non-abortion health services.
The decision by the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans reverses an earlier ruling by a three-judge appellate panel that blocked Texas from enforcing its ban on Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood.
It also expressly reversed a ruling blocking Louisiana from banning Planned Parenthood funding. A three-judge panel had ruled against the ban and that decision stood when the full court deadlocked 7-7 in 2017, when there were only 14 active judges on the court.
This time, 16 judges -- including five nominees of President Donald Trump -- participated in the case and 11 were in the majority.
"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," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement Monday. "Planned Parenthood is not a 'qualified' provider under the Medicaid Act, and it should not receive public funding through the Medicaid program."
In dissent, two judges said the case will leave millions in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, which falls under 5th Circuit jurisdiction, "vulnerable to unlawful state interference with their choice of health care providers."