(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - A court victory came Tuesday for Planned Parenthood of Indiana in its battle to retain Medicaid funding.
In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly passed and Governor Mitch Daniels signed House Enrolled Act 1210 into law, banning state taxpayer-funded Medicaid dollars from going to any entity that offered abortions, even if they offer other health services such as cancer screenings.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a suit on behalf of Planned Parenthood – the nation’s largest provider of abortions - soon after the law was passed. The organization said the loss of Medicaid would have forced it to close its Indiana health centers and cause its 21,000 patients to go elsewhere for care.
On Tuesday, the three judge panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago decided 2-1 to uphold a preliminary injunction of the law. The judges agreed the state does not have plenary authority to exclude a class of providers for any reason.
"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 decision read.
The court’s ruling upholds a lower court ruling from June of last year.
“We are pleased that the Court of Appeals has affirmed what a U.S. District Court had also determined – the state’s effort to enact this defunding legislation violates federal law,” said Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana. “We certainly hope this puts an end to the State’s effort to take away lifesaving, preventive care from thousands of women and men.”
However, part of the law was upheld by the Court of Appeals, reversing the lower court decision, regarding the state’s authority to discontinue funding from two federal grants Planned Parenthood had received totaling $150,000 from the Disease Intervention Services program.
The 7th Circuit majority decision said Planned Parenthood had not shown its rights had been violated when the State made a decision about eligibility conditions for disbursing the federal block grant, a statement from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office said.
“We will review this opinion more thoroughly with our clients before deciding how best to continue to defend the Indiana law,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.