When pro-lifers are counting their blessings this Thanksgiving, they can add something else to the list: the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In another win for President Trump's legacy on judges, the full Fifth Circuit gave the green light to three states to defund Planned Parenthood in Medicaid. Texas and Louisiana had been fighting to cut ties with the abortion giant for years -- only to be slapped down by the courts. Now, thanks to four new Trump judges, the bench had just enough common sense to give state leaders that right.
The victory was even sweeter because it didn't just overturn the Fifth Circuit's three-judge panel, but it specifically rolled back another decision that stopped Louisiana from doing the same. Now, thanks to the 11-5 ruling, both states (and Mississippi, since it's in the same jurisdiction) are free to zero out Planned Parenthood dollars.
Of course, this all started back in 2015 when David Daleiden's undercover videos exploded on the scene, outing Planned Parenthood's secret organ harvesting ring. The hours of footage confirmed a gruesome truth: America's biggest abortion business was selling pieces of aborted babies for profit. Nationwide, states started scrambling to distance themselves from the group's shop of horrors.
Some of the most damning evidence came from Planned Parenthood's Gulf Coast branch in Texas, where Director of Research Melissa Ferrill was caught on tape admitting that the scheme "contributes so much to the bottom line of our business here." She brags about her staff's "skill" in procuring "intact fetal cadavers" and reminds Daleiden that their location is one of the country's largest. She also admits to Daleiden that Planned Parenthood has managed to hide the illegal sales with clever accounting tricks. "We had two levels of invoicing for them," she explains, before launching into the elaborate cover-up.
Testimony like hers horrified Texas leaders, who flew into action to stop the group from getting a penny of the state's health care money. Leaders decided that, based on these videos, Planned Parenthood was "not qualified to provide medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner" under the Texas guidelines for Medicaid providers. As far as they could see, there were "numerous violations of generally accepted standards of medical practice." Not to mention, others pointed out, Planned Parenthood employees were lying and scamming the state.
Now, after three tries in court -- including a 7-7 deadlock in the Fifth Circuit in 2017 -- Texas is one step closer to its goal of cutting Planned Parenthood completely out of the funding picture. Of course, FRC legal expert Katherine Beck Johnson points out, the case could still have a ways to go, since Monday's ruling was a decision on whether Medicaid patients could sue over Texas's decision. Eleven judges said they don't. In the majority opinion, Judge Priscilla Owen pointed out that Medicaid beneficiaries have the right to "obtain services from the qualified provider of her choice," but said that doesn't mean a "beneficiary may contest or otherwise challenge a determination that the provider of her choice is unqualified."
Of the six judges Trump added to the Fifth Circuit, four agreed (a fifth recused, and the sixth wasn't on the court in time to hear the case). Katherine applauded the outcome, saying, "Medicaid patients should not and now cannot use the courts to undermine Texas's correct determination that Planned Parenthood is not a qualified health care provider." If the abortion industry doesn't agree, guess what? They can take it up with the U.S. Supreme Court, where another three of the president's justices will be waiting!