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Planned Parenthood Files Lawsuit To Block Ala. Medicaid Cuts

September 8, 2015 — Planned Parenthood Southeast in August filed a lawsuit in federal court to block Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's (R) decision to cut Medicaid funding for the organization, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Chandler,AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/28).

Background

Bentley earlier in August said the state would cut Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, following the release of misleading videos targeting the organization. The Alabama Medicaid Agency gave Planned Parenthood a 15-day notice.

The videos, which depict Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donation, were secretly filmed and released by an antiabortion-rights group called the Center for Medical Progress.Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal.

According to Alabama Medicaid records, PPS has received less than $5,000 in state funding over the past two years. Specifically, Medicaid allocated $3,417.58 in the current fiscal year to PPS to cover office visits, contraceptive implants and birth control shots, while it paid $933.79 in 2014 for an office visit, an IUD insertion and injections. The funding was not used for abortion services (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/7).

Lawsuit Details

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing PPS in the lawsuit, said PPS' Medicaid contract was illegally terminated (Stein, Reuters, 8/29).

According to the lawsuit, Bentley's decision violates federal Medicaid law that requires Medicaid beneficiaries to be able to choose their health care provider. The lawsuit states that the decision to cut funding penalizes low-income women who access contraceptive services and other preventive health care at PPS clinics. PPS said it would seek a preliminary injunction against the decision last week.

PPS CEO Staci Fox said, "We're in court today because each and every patient, and her ability to make her own deeply personal and private health care decisions, matters" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/28).

Meanwhile, Susan Watson, executive director at ACLU of Alabama, said, "The federal government and several courts have made clear that a state cannot kick Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program simply because Planned Parenthood provides abortion" (Reuters, 8/29).