INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Planned Parenthood of Indiana expects to start
offering services to Medicaid patients again Saturday after a federal
judge ruled the state is not allowed to cut off the organization’s public
funding for general health services solely because it also provides
U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s ruling Friday blocked parts of a
tough new abortion law and granted Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s request
for an injunction on the state’s move to defund the organization. The
decision sides 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.
Indiana attorney general’s office spokesman Bryan Corbin said the state
likely will appeal.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana has been without Medicaid funding since May
10, when Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law that cut off about
$1.4 million and made Indiana the first state to deny the organization
Medicaid funds for services such as breast exams and Pap tests.
Planned Parenthood, which serves about 9,300 Indiana clients on the
state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people who
receive Medicaid, was forced to stop seeing Medicaid patients this week
after private donations that had paid those patients’ bills ran out.
Planned Parenthood officials said Friday night they anticipate being able
to offer services to Medicaid patients again beginning Saturday, and will
file for reimbursement as they did before the law took effect.
“This decision will have immediate, positive consequences for our patients
and our organization, the state’s largest reproductive health care
provider,” said Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum.
The state had argued that federal law forbids Medicaid from covering
abortions in most circumstances and that the program indirectly funds the
procedures because Planned Parenthood’s financial statements show it
commingles Medicaid funds with other revenues. The state has argued
Medicaid might subsidize some of the overhead costs for space where
abortions are performed.
A recent federal Medicaid bulletin said states may not exclude qualified
health care providers merely because they also provide abortions. Pratt
noted in her ruling that the federal government had threatened to withhold
some or all of Indiana’s Medicaid funds because of the new law, which
could total more than $5 billion annually and affect nearly 1 million
“Thus, denying the injunction could pit the federal government against the
State of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse,” the judge wrote in
her ruling. “And if dogma trumps pragmatism and neither side budges,
Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens could end up paying the price as the
collateral damage of a partisan battle.”
Marcus Barlow, a spokesman for the state’s Family and Social Services
Administration, said that while the injunction is in effect, Planned
Parenthood will be able to provide services and apply for Medicaid
reimbursement as it did previously. He said the agency was unsure if it
would push for an appeal of the decision or whether Planned Parenthood
would continue to get funding during any appeal period.
“We’re still deciding on what our next step will be,” Barlow said.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kate Shepherd said the organization
believes it can continue to get funding under Pratt’s ruling even if the
state files an appeal because the injunction would stand unless it were
overturned by another judge.
Pratt’s ruling also addressed other provisions in Indiana’s law that
require doctors to tell women seeking abortions that a fetus can feel pain
at or before 20 weeks gestation and that “human physical life” begins at
The judge found that because Planned Parenthood only provides
first-trimester abortions, requiring its doctors to address fetal pain at
or before 20 weeks gestation may be “false, misleading and irrelevant.”
She issued a preliminary injunction on that part of the law as applied to
Planned Parenthood only.
However, Pratt denied Planned Parenthood’s request to block the measure
requiring doctors to tell women seeking abortions that “human physical
life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.”
“The inclusion of the biology-based word ‘physical’ is significant,
narrowing this statement to biological characteristics,” she wrote in her
ruling. “When the statement is read as a whole, it does not require a
physician to address whether the embryo or fetus is a ‘human life’ in the
Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter called the judge’s overall
“We are deeply disappointed that today’s ruling brushes aside the will of
the Indiana Legislature,” he said. “This ruling opens the pipeline for our
tax dollars to flow back into the hands of Indiana’s largest abortion
provider and denies women seeking abortions the right to know about an
unborn child’s ability to feel pain.”