CREDIT: Reuters/Joshua Roberts
After a legal battle that has stretched over the course of two years, the state of Indiana has agreed to put an end to its efforts to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood clinics. Indiana was the first state that attempted to target the national women’s health organization by blocking it from receiving state-level Medicaid dollars for the services it provides to low-income women.
In 2011, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) signed a law to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any Medicaid funding simply because it is an abortion provider — even though that money actually funds general health screenings for thousands of low-income women, not abortions. That sparked a national trend. Anti-abortion lawmakers in states like Arizona, North Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee, and Texas followed suit, enacting similar laws intended to defund the women’s health organization by excluding it from their states’ pools of public insurance providers.
But those efforts have been largely unsuccessful. Multiple courts have determined that states aren’t allowed to discriminate against qualified Medicaid providers simply because of their stance on abortion rights, saying that low-income women deserve the freedom to choose their own doctors.
Indiana’s own law was temporarily blocked by a U.S. District Judge last year, and a federal appeals court decided to uphold that injunction. Indiana officials kept fighting, asking the highest court in the country to hear their appeal of the case — but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to do so in May. Now, the state of Indiana is agreeing to permanently end its failed legal crusade against Planned Parenthood.
Cecile Richards, the president of the women’s health organization, hailed the news as a victory for women across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood clinics for their preventative care. “This is not only a victory for Planned Parenthood’s patients in Indiana, it is a victory for the nearly three million people who turn to Planned Parenthood health centers each year across the country,” Richards said in a statement. “Politicians in all 50 states should take note: blocking Planned Parenthood from funding to provide preventive health care is both unlawful, and deeply unpopular.”
In addition to permanently blocking Indiana from stripping Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding, the proposed final judgment will also dismiss the women’s health organization’s claim that this type of state law is unconstitutional.