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Indiana Gov. Weighing Decision on Bill To Defund Planned Parenthood

Indiana Gov. Weighing Decision on Bill To Defund Planned Parenthood

April 29, 2011 — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is weighing whether to sign into law a bill (HB 1210) that could establish a precedent for states looking to defund Planned Parenthood -- a decision that could affect his future as a possible presidential candidate, the Christian Science Monitor reports (Guarino, Christian Science Monitor, 4/28).

The bill, approved by the state Senate on April 20 and by the House on Wednesday, would prohibit state contracts or grants for Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortion services. Current law already prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion. In addition, the bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless a woman's life or health is substantially threatened. Current state law permits abortion before viability. The legislation would require abortion providers to inform women in writing that human life begins when the egg is fertilized, that abortion can increase the chances of infertility and that a fetus might feel pain before 20 weeks.

Planned Parenthood received about $3 million in federal funding last year, of which about $2 million was distributed by the state. The state also receives about $1.3 million in federal funds for Medicaid family planning programs. The state Family and Social Services Administration has expressed concern that Indiana could lose all $4 million of its Medicaid family planning funding if the bill becomes law because federal law dictates that states cannot pick and choose which providers receive the funds (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/28).

Daniels is not expected to comment on the bill until it arrives at his desk, and he has seven calendar days to take action before the bill becomes law without his signature (Elliot, AP/Washington Times, 4/28). According to the AP/Connecticut Post, vetoing the bill could "antagonize ardent social conservatives," who want to ban abortion funding and are skeptical of Daniels' "truce on social issues." Signing the measure could put Indiana at risk of losing $4 million in federal grants under Title X, which would compromise the state's fiscal interests -- the governor's top concern, the AP/Post reports (Davies/Martin, AP/Connecticut Post, 4/28).

Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University, said a veto could be overridden by the state Senate, which would allow Daniels to avoid having direct responsibility for the bill's passage. Downs also said that the state Attorney General's Office has been researching whether federal authorities can penalize the state for rescinding Medicaid funds (Christian Science Monitor, 4/28).