Court affirms block on Planned Parenthood defunding

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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.

The ruling 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.

The state 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.

On Tuesday, 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.

"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," the ruling said.

Planned Parenthood performs more than 5,500 abortions annually in Indiana.

Bryan Corbin, 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 seeking comment.

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."

The appeals court also said Pratt needed to modify other sections of her order that ACLU attorney Ken Falk said dealt with revenue sources other than Medicaid.


  • Good Comments
    Both of the comments here are insightful. I am not sure anyone is really "pro-abortion". Rational people understand that the best way to end abortion is through poverty relief, improvement in affordable health care options, sexual education, and contraceptives. The statistics from credible health and human rights organizations bear this out...in countries where abortion is illegal, it is still common place, and deadly to both the mother and the unborn. I gratuated from high school in 1972, before Roe vs Wade...there were a few states where you could get abortions, and in other countries...two girls in my high school class got abortions, one in New York, one in Canada. Their parents encouraged it, paid for the travel and the abortion in both cases...you won't stop some women (and parents of pregnant teenagers) who seek to terminate their pregnancy no matter what you do. In demand services are always supplied by someone. The only possible thing that will work is to take steps to curtail/eliminate unwanted pregnancy.
  • Let's be clear...
    Thank you Susan - I'm a Dem, but it's nice to know that there are others on the other side of politics that see the good this organization does. Let's be clear though... no one is ever pro abortion. Pro choice simply means letting a woman and her doctor decide what is best for her. Stripping the funding from Planned Parenthood is indeed narrow minded and extreme - especially since this organization does more to PREVENT abortions with their education, preventative services, and low cost or free birth control. Nearly all the women I know have at some point used their services. And it's not just for women, they offer services to men as well. I agree, that seeing more articles on the services they do provide would be nice and would help educate people about what they actually do.
  • Full disclosure
    I'd like to see articles that discuss Planned Parenthood's services more fully describe the services they provide. They are far more than an abortion clinic (which many seem to beleive) and provide a valuable health service to many people around the state. I am a Republican and am not pro-abortion, but cutting all funding is narrow-minded and will extreme.

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  1. You are correct that Obamacare requires health insurance policies to include richer benefits and protects patients who get sick. That's what I was getting at when I wrote above, "That’s because Obamacare required insurers to take all customers, regardless of their health status, and also established a floor on how skimpy the benefits paid for by health plans could be." I think it's vital to know exactly how much the essential health benefits are costing over previous policies. Unless we know the cost of the law, we can't do a cost-benefit analysis. Taxes were raised in order to offset a 31% rise in health insurance premiums, an increase that paid for richer benefits. Are those richer benefits worth that much or not? That's the question we need to answer. This study at least gets us started on doing so.

  2. *5 employees per floor. Either way its ridiculous.

  3. Jim, thanks for always ready my stuff and providing thoughtful comments. I am sure that someone more familiar with research design and methods could take issue with Kowalski's study. I thought it was of considerable value, however, because so far we have been crediting Obamacare for all the gains in coverage and all price increases, neither of which is entirely fair. This is at least a rigorous attempt to sort things out. Maybe a quixotic attempt, but it's one of the first ones I've seen try to do it in a sophisticated way.

  4. In addition to rewriting history, the paper (or at least your summary of it) ignores that Obamacare policies now must provide "essential health benefits". Maybe Mr Wall has always been insured in a group plan but even group plans had holes you could drive a truck through, like the Colts defensive line last night. Individual plans were even worse. So, when you come up with a study that factors that in, let me know, otherwise the numbers are garbage.

  5. You guys are absolutely right: Cummins should build a massive 80-story high rise, and give each employee 5 floors. Or, I suppose they could always rent out the top floors if they wanted, since downtown office space is bursting at the seams (http://www.ibj.com/article?articleId=49481).