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Judge blocks Texas from fully defunding Planned Parenthood day before the action was to take effect

A Texas judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked the state from kicking Planned Parenthood out of the its Medicaid program, a move that would have completely unhooked state taxpayers from funding the abortion provider.

The order came after Planned Parenthood filed a last-minute lawsuit Wednesday — the last day before the action was set to take effect — asking courts to step in and pause the effort. The emergency lawsuit argued that state officials did not give the state’s approximately 8,000 Medicaid patients enough time to find other providers.

Travis County Judge Maya Guerra Gamble agreed that patients should be afforded more time and granted a temporary restraining order on the action, setting a hearing for Feb. 17.

Republicans in Texas have been trying to oust Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program for several years, ever since an undercover video posted in 2015 by the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress purportedly showed the abortion provider illegally selling baby tissue it had obtained from abortion operations.

In 2017, a federal judge blocked the effort. But late last year, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision, clearing the way for Texas to finally go through with the effort. Following the ruling, Planned Parenthood asked Texas health officials for at least six months to help transition patients to other providers, but the state thought that excessive and offered a 30-day transition period instead.

In the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood characterized the effort as just “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.”

Now, with more time on its hands, Planned Parenthood will await potential action by the Biden administration, which has already shown urgency in reversing Trump-era policies pertaining to abortion and health care.

“This comes a week after the Biden-Harris administration made it clear it would put an end to Trump-era attacks against health care, including programs like Medicaid,” Planned Parenthood Texas Votes said in a press release. “Texas’s Medicaid ‘defunding’ offers a clear example of how critical it is for the Biden-Harris administration to stop attacks that target the reproductive health care of people with low incomes, women, and people of color.”

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