Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit on Friday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services's secretary, a day after federal officials told the state to begin phasing out a Medicaid program in Texas that provides health care for thousands of low-income women.
The lawsuit — Abbott's second move against the federal government this week — claims the federal decision to defund the Women's Health Program is illegal and violates the U.S. Constitution.
The Medicaid program funded primarily by the federal government provides Pap smears, breast exams, birth control and other services to more than 100,000 low-income, uninsured women between the ages of 18 and 44.
A state law passed this summer that would bar the program from paying for care at clinics affiliated with abortion providers took effect Wednesday, prompting the federal decision to cut funding.
The law is an attempt to stop women from seeking taxpayer-funded care at Planned Parenthood, even though participating clinics are legally separated from those that provide abortions, and tax dollars cannot be used to pay for abortions. Federal law says women should be able to select their own caregivers.