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Planned Parenthood Fails in Fight for Texas Funds

AUSTIN (CN) - Texas can ban Planned Parenthood from a health care program that provides contraception and health services for low-income women, a state judge ruled.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature banned health care providers who participate in the state's mostly federally funded $40 million Women's Health Program from performing or promoting abortions, or from affiliating with entities that do.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services responded by pulling federal funding from the state program altogether. Texas sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the lost funding and will go to trial in March 2013.

Last month, several Planned Parenthood groups filed similar complaints against Texas in state and federal court.

Judge Gary Harger with the Travis County court cleared the state on Monday to take over responsibility for the program's funding.

Planned Parenthood failed to show it would suffer an irreparable injury from its exclusion in the program, according to the ruling, which denied its request for an injunction to allow its continued participation.

Gov. Rick Perry applauded the ruling.

"Today's ruling finally clears the way for thousands of low-income Texas women to access much-needed care, while at the same time respecting the values and laws of our state," he said in a statement. "I applaud all those who stand ready to help these women live healthy lives without sending taxpayer money to abortion providers and their affiliates."

Last week, Planned Parenthood Pete Schenkkan argued in court that several clinics would shut down without funding from the Women's Health Program. He reportedly said that others would have to start charging for services that are now free.

Melaney Linton, CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, also weighed in on the ruling. "It is shocking that once again Texas officials are letting politics jeopardize health care access for women," Linton said, as quoted by the Houston Chronicle.

A ruling on the federal case is still pending.

Another hearing on the matter before a different judge is scheduled for Jan. 11.

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