Judge Says Indiana CANNOT Defund Planned Parenthood

June 29, 2011

Last Friday, June 24th, a federal judge ruled that the state of Indiana may not block state and federal public funding of Planned Parenthood only because the medical organization provides abortions. The ruling also granted Planned Parenthood an injunction on the state’s attempt at defunding.

The decision, made by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, in Indianapolis, agreed with the federal viewpoint that individual states may not disqualify Medicaid providers just because they also happen to be abortion providers, nor may the states do anything to restrict the freedom of Medicaid patients to select their own health care providers.

Bryan Corbin, the spokesperson for the Indiana attorney general’s office, said that the state will probably appeal this ruling.

The law, which went into effect last month, made Indiana the first state in the country to refuse to disburse Medicaid funds meant to be used for breast exams and Pap smears to Planned Parenthood. The organization, which provides health care to about 9.300 Indiana clients who receive state-federal health insurance for low-income and disabled Medicaid recipients, lost about $1.4 million because of that legislation.

The state’s argument was that federal law disallows Medicaid-covered abortions in most circumstances, and that such procedures are indirectly funded because financial statements from Planned Parenthood show that Medicaid funds are comingled with revenue from other sources. The state believes that this means the state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people might therefore be subsidizing some of the overhead costs for space where abortions are performed.

Pratt’s ruling said that Planned Parenthood would feel “dire financial effects” because of the law, and that the defunding meant basic health care would be denied to Medicaid patients who use the facility.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana has actually been running without Medicaid funding since Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed the law into force on May 10th, but wasn’t forced to stop seeing Medicaid patients until last week, when the donations from private sources, used to cover those patients’ bills, ran out.

Nationally, less than 3% of the medical services Planned Parenthood provides are abortions, or abortion-related.