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7th Circuit affirms block on Planned Parenthood defunding

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An injunction against an Indiana law that blocks state Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood has been upheld by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Planned Parenthood of Indiana, Inc., et al. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, et al., 11-2464, the court affirmed the decision by U.S. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, who granted a preliminary injunction against enforcing I.C. 5-22-17-5.5(b) that bars providing state or federal funds to “any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed.”

Immediately after the defunding law was enacted in 2011, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and several plaintiffs filed this lawsuit seeking to block the law’s implementation. The law prohibits abortion providers from receiving any state-administered funds, even if the money is earmarked for other services.

The appellate court held that Medicaid grants individual rights enforceable under U.S.C. Section 1983. The ruling was less clear with regard to the law’s efforts to prevent federal block-grant dollars from being provided to Planned Parenthood. The court held that the District Court likely erred in ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood on that issue, finding the block-grant program does not create actionable rights under U.S.C. Section 1983.

Judge Richard Cudahy joined the majority in other aspects but dissented on that point, writing, “I believe the issue of unconstitutional conditions should be remanded to the district court for development of the record with respect to any possible imposition of a burden on access to abortions.”

Writing for the majority, Judge Diane S. Sykes wrote, “Planned Parenthood is likely to succeed on (the Medicaid Act) claim. Although Indiana has broad authority to exclude unqualified providers from its Medicaid program, the state does not have plenary authority to exclude a class of providers for any reason — more particularly, for a reason unrelated to provider qualifications.

“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.”

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement that the 49-page decision was being reviewed to determine how best to proceed with defending the statute.

“The people’s elected representatives in the Legislature decided they did not want an indirect subsidy of abortion services such as payroll and overhead to be paid with taxpayer’s dollars and so crafted this law. Although the injunction concerning Medicaid funding was not lifted, we note that the 7th Circuit found the state has the legal authority to decide how federal block-grant dollars – which are tax dollars – will be distributed.”

The case goes back to Walton Pratt for modification of the injunction.

 

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