May 29, 2013 — The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to consider Indiana's appeal of a lower court's injunction against a state law prohibiting the distribution of Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood of Indiana, NPR's "The Two-Way" reports (Totenberg, "The Two-Way," NPR, 5/28).
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012 upheld the injunction, which was originally issued by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in June 2011 and subsequently challenged by the state.
The appeals court upheld a core portion of Pratt's ruling that said Indiana cannot bar qualified Medicaid providers that also provide abortions from collecting Medicaid funds for any service. The law violates patients' right to choose their medical providers, the appeals court said (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/24/12).
Details of Appeal
In its appeal to the Supreme Court, the state argued that taxpayers are subsidizing abortions when organizations such as Planned Parenthood receive Medicaid funding for other services. Even though federal law prohibits the use of federal funds for nearly all abortions, the state contended that the money "frees up" other money for the procedure, according to USA Today.
Planned Parenthood noted that abortions are paid for with private funds and argued that the Indiana law threatened access to other medical services, such as cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted infections (Wolf, USA Today, 5/29).
Similar Laws Blocked in Other States
According to "The Two-Way," more than a dozen other states have enacted or considered laws to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding.
The Indiana case is the first to reach the Supreme Court. Six federal courts have ruled that targeted defunding of certain Medicaid providers is illegal because it inappropriately interferes with a beneficiary's choice of provider ("The Two-Way," NPR, 5/28).
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said, "Politicians in all 50 states should take note: Blocking Planned Parenthood from funding to provide preventive health care is both unlawful and deeply unpopular." She noted that similar laws have been struck down in Arizona, North Carolina, Kansas and Tennessee (USA Today, 5/29).