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Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Planned Parenthood Can Receive Medicaid Funds

(CN) - Indiana cannot block Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood, the 7th Circuit ruled Tuesday as it narrowed the scope of an order barring the state from defunding abortion providers.

Indiana's House Enrolled Act 1210, signed into law last May, bars state agencies from providing public funding to "any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed."

Existing laws already prevented the state from using federal or state money on nontherapeutic abortions, but the 2011 law went a step further by prohibiting abortion providers from receiving any state funds, even if the money is earmarked for other services.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and two low-income patients sued in Federal Court, claiming the law violates the Medicaid Act by stripping them of their right to choose their own medical provider. Their claim was backed by the federal government in a friend-of-the-court brief.

Planned Parenthood also argued that the Indiana law is trumped by a federal block-grant statute, which authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to grant states federal money for programs related to sexually transmitted diseases.

Finding that these two claims were likely to succeed, a federal judge enjoined Indiana from denying Medicaid and grant money to Planned Parenthood.

The 7th Circuit on Tuesday upheld the injunction but narrowed its scope.

"The defunding law excludes Planned Parenthood from Medicaid for a reason unrelated to its fitness to provide medical services, violating its patients' statutory right to obtain medical care from the qualified provider of their choice," Judge Diane Sykes wrote for the three-judge panel in Chicago.

"The remaining claims are not likely to succeed, however, so the scope of the injunction must be modified."

The judges said the Indiana law is not preempted by the federal block-grant statute and does not impose an unconstitutional condition on recipients of public money.

"It is settled law that the government's refusal to subsidize abortion does not impermissibly burden a woman's right to obtain an abortion," Sykes wrote. "If a ban on public funding for abortion does not directly violate the abortion right, then Indiana's ban on other forms of public subsidy for abortion providers cannot be an unconstitutional condition that indirectly violates the right." (Emphasis in original.)

The panel ruled that Planned Parenthood could continue receiving Medicaid money, but not grant funding at this time.

In a partial dissent, Judge Richard Cudahy said the court should remand the issue of whether the law's conditions on funding recipients unconstitutionally burdens access to abortions.

"I believe it is premature for this court to address this issue on the present record," Cudahy wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said it "commends the court for its ruling, which will protect the liberties of thousands of Hoosiers."

In 2010, Planned Parenthood of Indiana served more than 75,000 patients in 28 clinics state-wide. It received more than $1.3 million in Medicaid reimbursement that year, and $150,000 in grants from state agencies.

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