(AP) — Indiana can't block Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood just
because the organization provides abortions, a federal appeals court ruled
Tuesday, upholding the crux of a lower court order that said the state
couldn't deny patients the right to choose their own health care provider.
will likely have little impact on Planned Parenthood's operations in
Indiana as funding to its clinics has been largely uninterrupted since
Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a law attempting to cut the
organization off in May 2011.
That law made
Indiana the first state to deny the Planned Parenthood Medicaid funds for
general health services including cancer screenings. The organization
immediately challenged the law with help from the American Civil Liberties
Union of Indiana. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt blocked the state from
enforcing the law in June 2011.
appealed that order, arguing that federal law says Medicaid cannot be used
to cover abortions in most circumstances and that the program indirectly
funds the procedures by providing money for Planned Parenthood.
the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld the core portion
of Pratt's order, saying the Indiana law effectively stamps on a person's
right to choose their doctors.
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,"
the ruling said.
a spokesman for the Indiana attorney general's office, said the state was
reviewing the appeals court opinion. The state can either ask the full
court to review the panel's ruling or appeal directly to the Supreme
Court. The governor's office did not return phone calls Tuesday morning
The ACLU said
the appeals court decision was a victory, above all, for women.
"This law was
an attempt by politicians to punish organizations that are providing legal
services," Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom
Project, said in a news release. "Elected officials should not place
politics above women's health."
court also said Pratt needed to modify other sections of her order that
ACLU attorney Ken Falk said dealt with revenue sources other than