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Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Over Exclusion From Contraception Program

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File photo of a Planned Parenthood clinic. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

File photo of a Planned Parenthood clinic. (credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Planned Parenthood sued Texas on Wednesday for excluding the group from participating in a program that provides contraception and check-ups to women.

The group contends in its lawsuit filed in Austin that a new state law banning organizations affiliated with abortion providers from participating in the Women’s Health Program amounts to unconstitutional discrimination by association.

“If enforced, the affiliate rule will cause irreparable harm to plaintiffs and to tens of thousands of low-income women seeking family planning and other preventive health services,” the suit alleges.

The federal government has also cut funding to Texas over the issue, saying it violated federal law. It says the state law passed by conservative Republicans and signed by Gov. Rick Perry last year, which cuts taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood because affiliates of the group offer abortions, denies women the right to choose their health care providers.

No taxpayer money is used to fund abortions and the clinics that perform them are legally separate.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which enforces the rule, issued a statement saying the law was within the state’s rights. Last month Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sued the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for cutting off funding for the Women’s Health program because of the new affiliate rule.

“Federal law gives state the right and responsibility to establish criteria for Medicaid providers, so we’re on firm legal ground,” the statement said. “We’ll continue to work with the Attorney General’s Office to fully enforce state law and continue federal funding for the Women’s Health Program.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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