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TribBlog: Family Planning Quandary?

Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, wants the attorney general to decide whether a Texas family planning rule — one that bans the state's Women's Health Program from contracting with clinics that "perform or promote" abortions — is constitutional.

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State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, is asking the attorney general to decide whether a Texas family planning rule — one that bans the state's Women's Health Program from contracting with clinics that "perform or promote" abortions — is constitutional.

Deuell, who could not immediately be reached for comment, appears to support the 2005 provision, which also prohibits the Health and Human Services Commission program from contracting with clinics that are "affiliates of entities that perform or promote elective abortions." (Take Planned Parenthood, for example.) Despite the rule, Deuell's letter notes, the state had paid more than $5 million to 12 different Planned Parenthood entities as of February 2009 for services associated with the Women's Health Program. 

Deuell says that when he approached then-HHSC Commissioner Albert Hawkins about the payments, Hawkins told him that for legal reasons, the agency could not "fully implement the prohibition against contracting with an organization that is an affiliate of an entity that performs or promotes elective abortions." In a letter, Hawkins told Deuell his legal staff feared such a ban would "likely be held unconstitutional by the courts."

"I respectfully request an Attorney General opinion stating whether the restrictions imposed ... upon eligible providers under the Women's Health Program, including the restriction on affiliates, is constitutional," Deuell wrote.

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