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Ind. Gov. Daniels To Sign Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood, Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks

Ind. Gov. Daniels To Sign Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood, Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks

May 2, 2011 — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) on Friday said he plans to sign into law a bill (HB 1210) that would bar Medicaid beneficiaries from obtaining care at Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana, block state government funding for clinics that provide abortion services with their own funds and enact some of the most stringent antiabortion-rights measures in the country, the Indianapolis Star reports (Schneider, Indianapolis Star, 4/30). He will sign the bill sometime within the next week, when it reaches his desk (Weiner, Washington Post, 4/29).

The bill -- approved by the state Senate on April 20 and by the House on April 27 -- would prohibit state contracts or grants to Planned Parenthood and other organizations in Indiana 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, which was generally determined by doctors to be several weeks beyond the 20 week threshold provided for in the bill. 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. In addition, 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, 4/29).

Despite his acknowledgment that current law already prohibits government funds from being used to pay for abortion care, Daniels said in a statement, "Any organization affected by this provision can resume receiving taxpayer dollars immediately by ceasing or separating its operations that perform abortions" (Davey, New York Times, 4/29).

Daniels said that he has always supported the bill's abortion-related restrictions and that "the recent addition of language guarding against the spending of tax dollars to support abortions creates no reason to alter my position." He said his administration reviewed access to women's health care services "and can confirm that all non-abortion services, whether family planning or basic women's health, will remain readily available in every one of our 92 counties." Daniels said he "ordered the Family and Social Services Administration to see that Medicaid recipients receive prompt notice of nearby care options," adding, "We will take any actions necessary to ensure that vital medical care is, if anything, more widely available than before" (Indianapolis Star, 4/30).

Planned Parenthood Reacts

Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum said, "We will be filing an injunction immediately to try to halt this alarming erosion of public health policy in our state" (Washington Post, 4/29). She continued, "Medicaid law is pretty clear: You cannot unplug a provider because they're providing a constitutionally protected service." Cockrum said she hopes HHS "is paying attention" and that "Indiana hears from them soon." PPIN's 28 centers serve 9,300 Medicaid beneficiaries, according to Cockrum (Guarino, Christian Science Monitor, 4/29).

Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said, "Clearly, Gov. Daniels would rather play politics with women's health than show leadership and fiscal responsibility in rejecting a bill that will ultimately cost the state millions in federal funding" (New York Times, 4/29).

Support of Bill Might Signal Presidential Aspirations

Many observers speculate that Daniels' decision to sign the bill shows his intention to run in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, despite his past call for a "truce" on social issues in the 2012 campaign, according to the Post.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, "Gov. Mitch Daniels has put his presidential ambitions above thousands of Hoosier women, who, as a result of his actions, will lose access to birth control, cancer screenings and other basic health care." She added, "With the stroke of a pen, Daniels will declare his truce on social issues to be over" (Washington Post, 4/29).

Indiana Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson (D) said this bill is "the bellwether of whether he's going to run (for president). I think clearly he is, and he needed the radical right" (Indianapolis Star, 4/30).

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion-rights group Susan B. Anthony List, praised Daniels for signing the bill (Washington Post, 4/29). State Rep. Linda Lawson (D) said the legislation will make Daniels unpopular with independent voters and women, adding that signing the legislation might not be "in his best interest" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/29).