INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana will likely stop defending a law that stripped
Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood after the Supreme Court declined to
hear the case Tuesday, an attorney who represents the nation's largest
abortion provider said.
Indiana is among more than a dozen states that have enacted or considered
laws to prevent taxpayers' money from funding organizations that provide
abortion. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 23 that the law
targeting Planned Parenthood went too far because it denied women the right
to choose their own medical providers.
"I assume at this point the state will give up in its claim that that
portion of the statue is valid under the Social Security Act," said Ken
Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. The
case now returns to U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, who granted the
initial preliminary injunction to temporarily block the law, precipitating
the state's appeals.
TheFamily and Social Services Administration — the agency tasked with
enforcing the law — declined comment.
"My office always contended this is ultimately a dispute between the state
and federal government, not between a private medical provider and the
state," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement. Zoeller's
office handled the state's appeal.
The justices who rejected the state's appeal of the appeals' court ruling
also did not comment.
The law aimed to deny Planned Parenthood funds from the joint federal-state
Medicaid health program for the poor that are used for general health
services including cancer screening.
Planned Parenthood warned that the law would deny more than 9,000 women
access to other important health care services such as breast cancer
screenings, birth control and prevention and treatment of sexually
transmitted diseases. The organization was forced to stop seeing Medicaid
patients for little more than a month, between the time the law was signed
and the district court ruling saying it couldn't be enforced.
"While the state has been trying to score political points and wasting
taxpayer dollars, we've been standing up for the Hoosiers who count on us
every day. We look forward to the day the preliminary injunction in this
case becomes permanent," Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned
Parenthood of Indiana, said in a statement.
Pratt's June 2011 decision blocked parts of the abortion law and granted
Planned Parenthood of Indiana's request for a preliminary injunction on the
state's move to defund the organization. Her decision sided with federal
officials who said states cannot restrict Medicaid recipients' freedom to
choose their health care provider or disqualify Medicaid providers merely
because they also offer abortions.
Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, who sponsored the original bill, said
he was disappointed the justices declined to hear the case because he
believed the rulings left open a loophole in federal law barring public
funding for abortion.
He said anti-abortion legislators would have to study the ruling and
determine if there might be another approach.
Falk said the court rulings leave intact the state's power to block Planned
Parenthood from receiving federal grants through the U.S. Department of
Health, but those funds were a far smaller amount than the money the
organization received from Medicaid.
The case now goes back to Pratt, who will decide whether to make the
preliminary injunction permanent. Pratt was appointed in 2010 by President