A Federal Judge Ruled That Texas Can't Defund Planned Parenthood Over Misleading Videos

On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked Texas from cutting off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, citing that the state had presented no credible evidence to support claims over secretly recorded videos taken by anti-abortion activists in 2015. The heavily edited videos are what led to a mass Republican effort across the United States to defund and ultimately shut down Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.  

This decision came just two months after Texas governor Greg Abbott promised constituents that he would remove Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding in Texas, upon the release of the very misleading video, which featured a Houston clinic. According to The New York Times, the secretly recorded video from April of 2015, “purported to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of aborted fetal tissue and discussing the issue with abortion opponents who posed as representatives of a biomedical company.” However, United States District Court Judge Sam Sparks wrote in his ruling on Tuesday, "A secretly recorded video, fake names, a grand jury indictment, congressional investigations—these are the building blocks of a best-selling novel rather than a case concerning the interplay of federal and state authority through the Medicaid program. Yet rather than a villain plotting to take over the world, the subject of this case is the State of Texas’ efforts to expel a group of health care providers from a social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources."

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the state will appeal on the repeated accusations that Planned Parenthood "manipulated the timing of abortions to benefit researchers." Planned Parenthood denies these allegations and Sparks says there is no evidence to back up any of these claims.

While the battle between state lawmakers and Planned Parenthood has been ongoing since Roe v. Wade, Texas is the sixth state in the country where federal courts have kept Planned Parenthood eligible for Medicaid reimbursements for non-abortion-related services. Abortion already cannot be paid for with federal money, due to the Hyde AmendmentThe Associated Press reports that Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Louisiana have fought similar battles.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called this a “victory for Texas women," saying We will never back down, and we will never stop fighting for our patients.”