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The Brief: May 1, 2012

Planned Parenthood scored a rare, if brief, victory in Texas on Monday.

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The Big Conversation:

Planned Parenthood has scored a rare, if brief, victory in Texas.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on Monday blocked the state from excluding the health care provider from the state's Medicaid Women's Health Program. A rule pushed by Texas Republicans would have removed 49 Planned Parenthood clinics from the program starting today.

Yeakel said the removal of Planned Parenthood from the program would put thousands of low-income Texas women at risk of losing services like cervical and breast cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing.

“The record demonstrates that plaintiffs currently provide a critical component of Texas' family-planning services to low-income women," Yeakel wrote in his opinion. "The court is unconvinced that Texas will be able to find substitute providers for these women in the immediate future, despite its stated intention to do so."

The state's Health and Human Services Commission indicated Monday that it would comply with the ruling, but the ramifications for the state remain unclear. Texas officials have said they would cancel the program anyway if courts rule in favor of Planned Parenthood and that the state intends ro run the program without federal help or Medicaid dollars.

The state said Monday that it would appeal the ruling. “Texas has a long history of protecting life, and we are confident in Attorney General Abbott’s appeal to defend the will of Texans and our state law, which prohibits taxpayer funds from supporting abortion providers and affiliates in the Women’s Health Program," Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said in a statement. "We will continue to work with the Attorney General to pursue all available legal options."

Culled:

  • Al Armendariz, the Environmental Protection Agency's top official in Texas, resigned Monday amid howls of protest from Republicans over his recently surfaced two-year-old remark describing a push to "crucify" polluters. Environmentalists expressed regret over Armendariz's resignation, but members of the oil and gas industry applauded the move. "We were certainly frightened — the oil and gas industry — by his tactics," said Alex Mills, president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.
  • The campaign of Elizabeth Ames Jones, a candiate for Senate District 25, released an ad Monday responding to a spot that her opponent, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, unveiled last week calling Jones a puppet controlled by Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Jones' ad features Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed, who says in the spot, "I know political campaigns can be rough, but Wentworth's attacks on Elizabeth Ames Jones are exactly what's wrong with politics today."

  • National Journal reported Monday that U.S. Senate candidate Tom Leppert will spend about $2 million to air ads this month on broadcast stations in the state's major markets, including Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. Leppert also released a radio ad on Monday featuring former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.

"The campaign was extended an invitation, and we never heard back." — Texas Republican Party spokesman Chris Elam to the Houston Chronicle on inviting Mitt Romney to the party's state convention on June 8. (Rick Santorum has said he will attend.)

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