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Indiana Attorney General: State Has Right to Defund Planned Parenthood

Hoosiers likely to challenge federal judge's injunction that ordered funding to resume.


| Posted 6/28/11 at 7:21 PM


INDIANAPOLIS (EWTN News) — Indiana’s attorney general has indicated that the state is likely to challenge a federal judge’s injunction that ordered the state to resume funding for Planned Parenthood on June 24.

“The federal government’s position in this case is in tension with its own regulations, which specifically acknowledge state authority over provider qualifications,” Attorney General Greg Zoeller wrote in a June 24 response to the injunction ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Pratt.

Judge Pratt ordered Indiana to restore Planned Parenthood funds, saying the state cannot cut funding for otherwise “competent” Medicaid providers in a way that would limit patients’ health-care choices.

But Zoeller maintains that the state reserves the right of “excluding individuals or entities from its Medicaid program” for “any reason or period authorized by state law.”

He added that neither the federal government nor Planned Parenthood had presented a convincing argument against Indiana’s grounds for defunding the abortion provider —  namely, “to prevent indirect taxpayer subsidy for abortion and carry out the policies behind the Hyde Amendment.”

Zoeller said the law “is not, as the United States suggests, the exclusion of a ‘provider based on an ideological objection to the scope of services the provider offers.’”

“It is instead a measure designed to ensure that the people’s money does not fund, even indirectly through shared staff salaries or overhead, the practice of abortion,” he stated. Thus, he said, the statute “fits comfortably even within the federal government’s non-textual restrictions” on Medicaid funding.

The law in question cut nearly $1.4 million in Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood continued providing services without the funding until June 20, when donations ran out. Planned Parenthood officials said the law would eventually force seven facilities to close.

Judge Pratt described the dispute over Planned Parenthood’s public funding as a “partisan battle” and said that Indiana’s “most vulnerable citizens” could be harmed if the abortion provider lost its public funding.

She also said the public interest “tilts” in favor of her injunction. The federal government has threatened to withhold $5 billion in Medicaid funds if Planned Parenthood’s funding remains cut.
Judge Pratt also blocked a second provision of the law that requires abortion providers to inform patients of their unborn child’s ability to feel pain. However, she rejected Planned Parenthood’s request to block another provision requiring women to be told that life begins at conception.

The defunding portion of the law went into effect immediately after Gov. Mitch Daniels signed it May 10. The law cut state funding for entities that either perform abortions or support facilities that perform abortions, with the exception of hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.