News Abortion

Texas Judge Denies Politicians’ Attempt to Join Ultrasound Lawsuit

Robin Marty

Judge tells the bill's authors the case isn't an anti-abortion "soapbox."

As Texas gears up to fight over the new law mandating all women who want abortions must first have an ultrasound, the judge refuses the law’s sponsors’ request to join the suit.

Via DallasNews.com:

“Both parties in this case are well-represented by competent and diligent counsel, and neither they nor this Court needs assistance from Senator Patrick or Representative MIller — particularly when much of their ‘assistance’ is nothing more than thinly-veiled rhetoric,” [U.S. District Judge Sam] Sparks wrote in his order denying their entry and filed with the court Tuesday.

“This is a federal lawsuit about the constitutionality of a statute, not a soapbox for politicians or a sounding board for public opinion,” Sparks stated.

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Texas’s law would force almost all women seeking abortions to undergo a vaginal ultrasound and then hear a detailed description of the fetus before having the procedure.

News Family Planning

Lawsuit Challenges Arizona’s Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

Nicole Knight Shine

The Republican-backed law specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails "to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a federal court to block an Arizona law defunding Planned Parenthood, arguing in a legal challenge filed Thursday that the Arizona measure is “illegal.”

The GOP-backed law, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in May, specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails “to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Federal law already bars health-care providers from using Medicaid dollars for abortion care, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

In an 18-page complaint, the plaintiffs argue that the restriction is impermissible under Medicaid statutes, and they ask for an injunction on the law, which goes into effect August 6. Planned Parenthood said in an emailed statement that the law could slash funding for birth control, cancer screenings, and preventive care, affecting more than 2,500 Medicaid patients in the state.

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The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state Medicaid agency, did not respond to a request for comment.

Jennifer Lee, staff attorney at the ACLU, called the Arizona law “another attempt to intimidate doctors who provide abortion and to punish low-income women in particular,” in a statement announcing the lawsuit. Planned Parenthood operates 11 medical centers in the state, including three in underserved and impoverished communities with high rates of infant mortality, according to the court filing.

At least ten states, including Arizona, have attempted to strip Planned Parenthood of funding—the fallout from a string of deceptive smear videos masterminded by David Daleiden, the head of the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress, who now faces a felony record-tampering charge.

“This case is about the people who rely on us for basic care every day,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an announcement of the Arizona suit. “We’ll continue fighting in Arizona, and anywhere else there are efforts to block our patients from the care they need.”

The Arizona law represents the state’s second attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision finding a similar defunding measure, HB 2800, violated federal Medicaid law.

In April, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent a letter to all 50 states saying that cutting funding to qualified providers solely because they provide abortion care violates federal law.

Independent analysis suggests gutting Planned Parenthood funding exacts a toll on health care.

2015 report from the Congressional Budget Office indicated that health-care access would suffer under Planned Parenthood funding cuts, with the potential for $650 million in additional Medicaid spending over a decade and thousands of more births.

In Texas, births surged 27 percent among low-income women who were using injectable birth control but lost access to the service when the state cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

News Human Rights

Judge Stays Order That Would Have Caused ‘Irreversible Harm to Thousands of Immigrant Youth’

Tina Vasquez

“This decision rightly puts a stop, for now, to an indefensible order that could have exposed tens of thousands of blameless youth to privacy and safety threats,” National Immigration Law Center Legal Director Karen Tumlin said.

Thousands of young, undocumented immigrants won’t see their personal information released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to a Texas court, thanks to the U.S. district judge who issued the May 19 order, Andrew Hanen. On Tuesday, Hanen stayed the order “pending the outcome of” a hearing he set for August 22.

As Rewire reported Monday, the court order would have placed the personal information of thousands of immigrant youth directly in the hands of the state officials who oppose protections for undocumented persons.

The August 22 hearing will take place after the Supreme Court is expected to rule in United States v. Texas, the lawsuit that challenges the Obama administration’s 2014 executive action on immigration. The action included expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which extended work permits issued under the program from two to three years, and creating Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). As a result of the lawsuit challenging the executive action, the implementation of DAPA has stalled indefinitely.

Like DACA—which enables undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to receive a renewable work permit and exemption from deportation for two years—DAPA offers similar benefits to undocumented parents with U.S. citizenship or legal permanent resident children.

A February 2016 report by the Migration Policy Institute and the Urban Institute found that 3.6 million undocumented parents could benefit from DAPA, though like DACA, it does not offer a pathway to citizenship.

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Nationwide, an estimated 108,000 young immigrants benefited from the DACA expansion that existed from November 2014 to February 2015, the period between when the administration issued its action and when Hanen ordered the government to rescind the three-year permits and halt implementation of DAPA.

Last month, Hanen ordered the DOJ to disclose the names, addresses, and other identifiers of the estimated 50,000 DACA recipients residing in the 26 states involved in United States v. Texas who benefited from the short-lived DACA expansion. In an effort to halt the disclosure, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Texas petitioned the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday for a writ of mandamus on behalf of four people who would be affected by Hanen’s order.

“This decision rightly puts a stop, for now, to an indefensible order that could have exposed tens of thousands of blameless youth to privacy and safety threats,” NILC Legal Director Karen Tumlin said in a press release. “Though we’ve always known that this order is out of bounds and should never take effect, we are glad that Judge Hanen has at least decided to wait for the Supreme Court to provide some guidance in this case before taking a step that would cause irreversible harm to thousands of immigrant youth.”