Just when I started to think there was a glimmer of hope at the end of this seemingly endless, dark tunnel that is the War on Women, Texas does a ruthlessly efficient job of completely crushing my dreams and sending me into a seething rage spiral.
Governor Rick Perry’s assault on Planned Parenthood in Texas is not new. I explain it in greater detail here, but in a nutshell: he attempted to exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving any funding that was meant for the state’s Women’s Health Program because they are abortion lovers, even though the PPs that provide abortions are completely, legally separate from the PPs that provide other healthcare procedures. As a result, the federal government withheld all funding from the Women’s Health Program, because what he did was illegal, and, in non-technical terms, assy. Losing out on government funds meant that 90% of the funding for the Texas Women’s Health Program would be gone.
Planned Parenthood sued the Texas government, claiming that Perry’s actions violated their constitutional right to free speech and association. On Monday, a federal judge ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor, claiming that there was “sufficient evidence the state rule barring Planned Parenthood is unconstitutional” and imposing a temporary injunction. Women and sane people everywhere rejoiced in the idea that someone was finally understanding just how much this ridiculous attempt by Perry to ban abortions was actually hurting women.
Thanks to the injunction, Texas Planned Parenthoods would be able to continue operating and helping low income women get the healthcare they need.
Enter Judge Jerry Smith, Republican Fifth Circuit court judge and Reagan appointee. Less than 24 hours after the injunction, Judge Smith effectively blocked the ruling and granted the state of Texas’ Motion to Stay, which read, in part:
“Money is fungible, and taxpayer subsidies-even if “earmarked” for nonabortion activities-free up other resources for Planned Parenthood to spend on its mission to promote elective abortions…(because “[m]oney is fungible,” First Amendment does not prohibit application of federal material-support statute to individuals who give money to “humanitarian” activities performed by terrorist organizations).”
I interpret that motion in two ways: the state of Texas objects to the ruling because even if the money only goes to non-abortion performing Planned Parenthood clinics, it will give PP more money and freedom overall to then spend their own money on abortions; and they also seem to compare giving money to Planned Parenthood akin to giving money to a terrorist organization. *slaps self in face* Seriously?
The fact that Judge Smith went ahead and denied the injunction all by himself is an indication of just how crazy he is. I know almost nothing about this kind of court system, but according to ThinkProgress, appeals court judges very rarely act on their own. They usually make such decisions as a part of three judge panels, in order to lend more legitimacy to their decisions. While Smith was technically allowed to make an independent decision, this kind of action is usually reserved for : “an exceptional case in which time requirements make that procedure impracticable.”
Additionally, ThinkProgress points out that Judge Lee Yeakel, who passed the injunction, spent weeks on his decision and provided a 24-page explanation to go with his ruling. Smith spent just a few hours and the extent of his ruling was two sentences:
“IT IS ORDERED that appellant’s motion for stay pending appeal is GRANTED pending further order of this court. This order is entered by a single judge pursuant to FED. R. APP. P. 8(a)(2)(D).”
If one more Republican politician or talking head claims that there is no such thing as the War on Women, I am going to lose my mind. Here is an example that could not more clearly demonstrate conservatives’ absolute disregard for women and their health. Planned Parenthood separated into two legal entities in order to appease the Texas government, and yet they will not be satisfied until the entire organization in their state is completely shut down, even if it means more than 100,000 low-income women will lose access to life-saving healthcare. With a Republican in the White House, I actually shudder to think of how much further down this road we could go.
I can’t say this enough: ladies (and men who respect ladies): REMEMBER THIS IN NOVEMBER.