In a reversal against Planned Parenthood, a federal appeals court told a trial judge to take another look at evidence that the organization sold the tissue of aborted fetuses.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the Texas judge, who had issued an injunction against state officials for trying to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. The appeals court said the judge should reconsider whether the clinic's practices disqualified Planned Parenthood for Medicaid.
In Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Family Planning and Preventative Health Services v. Smith, videos revealed graphic discussions about the sale of liver, thymus and other neural tissue from second trimester abortions. Texas prohibits all of that.
Defunding Planned Parenthood
Based on the surreptitious recordings, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission terminated Medicare agreements of Planned Parenthood throughout the state. The agency said the clinics did not comply with accepted medical and ethical standards.
Planned Parenthood and affiliates sued, and a trial judge granted a preliminary injunction to stop the defunding. Judge Sam Sparks said Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong.
According to reports, an anti-abortion group heavily edited the videos to make it appear Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue. But on appeal, the Fifth Circuit said that's not what happened.
"The record reflects that [the Texas Office of Inspector General] had submitted a report from a forensic firm concluding that the video was authentic and not deceptively edited," Judith Edith Jones wrote for the appeals panel.
"Video Was Authentic"
Jones said the plaintiffs did not identify any particular omission or addition in the video footage. That was enough to support the decision by health and human service officials.
In reversing the trial judge, the Fifth Circuit opened the door for the state to cut off Planned Parenthood's funding. The decision to defund "may only be overturned if it fails to satisfy 'minimum standards of rationality,'" the appeals court said.