HOUSTON — Planned Parenthood sued Texas officials in federal court in Austin on Monday, seeking to block the state from cutting off its Medicaid funding, the latest in a series of lawsuits it has filed against Republican-led states after the controversy over its use of fetal tissue.
Texas and a handful of other states — including Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana — have moved to eliminate Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood amid the controversy. Secretly recorded videos that were released starting in July 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 firm.
Days after Gov. Greg Abbott said in October that the state was canceling the group’s Medicaid funding, state health department investigators arrived at Planned Parenthood sites in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Brownsville with orders to turn over thousands of pages of documents, including patients’ records.
Texas lawmakers have taken other actions against abortion providers. In 2013, the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature passed some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country. The bill led to a court case the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear, but has also had a wide-ranging impact on women’s health, abortion rights supporters said.
Texas officials have said cutting off Medicaid funding and the state’s abortion restrictions were aimed at ensuring women received safe health care and protecting unborn children. “Texas must be able to ensure its Medicaid providers protect the health and safety of those seeking services,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement Monday. “Simply stated, Planned Parenthood cannot be trusted.”