* Decision reverses lower court ruling Monday
* Planned Parenthood not eligible provider- Texas official
(Adds background on ruling, other states)
By Corrie MacLaggan
AUSTIN, Texas, May 1 A U.S. appeals court ruled
on Tuesday that the state of Texas can exclude Planned
Parenthood from a state health program for low-income women
because the organization performs abortions.
The ruling by 5th U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith reversed a
lower court ruling Monday in favor of the family planning
organization. The emergency ruling on Tuesday means the state is
free - for now - to enforce a new rule banning Planned
Parenthood from the Women's Health Program, Texas officials
said. The court requested a response from Planned Parenthood by
"At this point, Planned Parenthood is not an eligible
provider in the Women's Health Program," Stephanie Goodman, a
spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission,
said on Tuesday.
The Women's Health Program, which is part of the
federal-state Medicaid program, provides cancer screenings,
birth control and other health services to more than 100,000
It does not pay for abortions or allow abortion providers to
participate in the program. The new state rule bans program
money from going to affiliates of abortion providers. State law
has included that ban on affiliates since the program began in
2007 but the state did not enforce it.
Planned Parenthood said on Tuesday it will continue seeing
patients who are enrolled in the program. It is unclear whether
its clinics would be reimbursed by the government for that care.
"We don't want to cause any more confusion or fear than the
state has already caused Texas women," Sarah Wheat, interim
chief executive of Planned Parenthood in Austin, said in an
A spokeswoman for Texas Governor Rick Perry said the state
will defend Texas law.
"Texas has a long history of protecting life (of the
unborn)," spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in a statement.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel temporarily
blocked the state rule, citing "the potential for immediate loss
of access to necessary medical services by several thousand
Planned Parenthood had told Yeakel that the healthcare of
40,000 women would be disrupted unless he blocked the rule.
But lawyers for the state said Planned Parenthood's mission
was contrary to a program goal of reducing abortions and that
the program would end if Planned Parenthood remains in it.
Texas notified the federal government last year of its
intent to begin enforcing the ban, effectively excluding Planned
Parenthood from the program.
President Barack Obama's administration has said it will not
renew funding for the Texas program because the state was
violating federal law by restricting the freedom to choose
The state is suing over that decision. The federal
government pays 90 percent of the $33 million-a-year program.
Planned Parenthood has been under siege in several states by
abortion opponents. In the past year alone, states including
Wisconsin, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana, in addition to
Texas, have moved to block Planned Parenthood from receiving
(Reporting by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Greg McCune and Bill