Updated at: 12/31/2012 6:37 PM
By CHRIS TOMLINSON
(AP) AUSTIN, Texas - Texas may cut off funding to Planned Parenthood’s family planning programs for poor women, a state judge ruled Monday.
Judge Gary Harger ruled that Texas may exclude otherwise qualified doctors and clinics from receiving state funding if they advocate for abortion rights, attorney general spokeswoman Lauren Bean said.
The state has long banned the use of state funds for abortion, but had continued to reimburse Planned Parenthood clinics for providing basic health care to poor women.
"We are pleased the court rejected Planned Parenthood’s latest attempt to skirt state law," Bean said. "The Texas Attorney General’s office will continue to defend the Texas Legislature’s decision to prohibit abortion providers and their affiliates from receiving taxpayer dollars through the Women’s Health Program."
Representatives for Planned Parenthood did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
The Women’s Health Program provides check-ups and birth control to 110,000 poor women a year. Planned Parenthood clinics were treating 48,000 of those women.
Planned Parenthood has brought three lawsuits over Texas’ so-called "affiliate rule," arguing it violates the constitutional rights of doctors and patients while also contradicting existing state law.
Last week, the group asked Harger for a temporary restraining order against enforcing the ban until a judge can decide its case to overthrow the rule. Harger rejected the request.
Another hearing is scheduled with a different judge for Jan. 11, where Planned Parenthood will again ask for an injunction to receive state funding.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)