In the videos in question, two individuals including journalist David Daleiden posed as representatives from a fetal tissue procurement company, and claimed to be interested in purchasing liver, thymus, and neural tissue from fetuses aborted during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Melissa Farrell, Research Director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, is shown in the videos discussing the possibility of a research partnership, providing a tour of her clinic’s surgical facilities, and displaying tissue samples from recently aborted fetuses, according to the court ruling.
An Aug. 2016 grant proposal attributed to George Soros’ Open Society Foundations indicated at least $7-$8 million would be spent in a campaign to counter the CMP videos and “transform the narrative, charging that the videos were doctored.”
Following the release of the videos, the Texas Office of the Inspector General (OIG) subsequently informed Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in October 2015 that they were “no longer capable of performing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, and legal manner” and their funding would be terminated, and sent final notice of the decision during December 2016.
Planned Parenthood’s 30 affiliates in Texas currently receive $3.4 million in Medicaid funds.
The affiliates sued in federal court to block the termination of funding, and the district court granted an injunction for the plaintiffs in part because, in the February 2017 opinion of district judge Sam Sparks, the undercover videos had not been authenticated and appeared to have been edited.
The district court also discounted statements from Farrell because she claimed on the witness stand that she had no personal knowledge of the medical aspects of abortion procedures and “had never even been in the room when an abortion was performed.”
Jones affirmed that the state has the right to exclude a healthcare provider from Medicaid funds, and criticized the Planned Parenthood affiliates’ argument that the OIG has insufficient expertise to determine the qualifications of abortion providers.
“That the Chief Medical Officer is a surgeon – and not himself an abortion provider – does not mean that he deserves no deference when deciding whether a provider has failed to meet the medical and ethical standards the state requires,” Jones wrote.
“It is even odder to claim that federal judges, who have no experience in the regulations and ethics applicable to Medicaid or medical practice, much less in regard to harvesting fetal organs for research, should claim superior expertise.”
The case is now remanded to the district court for further review, which has been ordered to apply a different legal standard to determine the final outcome.
The Texas House of Representatives first passed a budget that would have stripped Planned Parenthood of its state funding in April 2017. Texas’ Inspector General had sought to strip the abortion provider of state funding because the videos “indicated noncompliance with accepted medical and ethical standards,” according to the lawsuit.
(Story continues below)
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“Planned Parenthood’s reprehensible conduct, captured in undercover videos, proves that it is not a ‘qualified’ provider under the Medicaid Act, so we are confident we will ultimately prevail,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a Jan. 17 statement.