LA Tries To Revive Planned Parenthood Funding Cut
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Attorneys for the state of Louisiana are trying to revive the state's Medicaid funding cut for Planned Parenthood clinics.
Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction blocking the cut, which would have kept needy Louisiana women from getting non-abortion services at Planned Parenthood facilities.
Now, the state has asked the full court to re-hear the case.
Former Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration moved to cut Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood following the release of stealth videos that abortion opponents claimed showed Planned Parenthood officials outside Louisiana selling fetal tissue for profit.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, the group's Louisiana affiliate, and three of its patients challenged the funding cutoff in federal court.
They said the attempt to cut funding for the organization's non-abortion-related services in Baton Rouge and New Orleans was politically motivated and would leave the women with no place to get needed care.
The three-judge appellate panel rejected several state arguments that Planned Parenthood was "unqualified" to provide the care. It also said cutting off funding would deny some women access to needed medical care, and that, under the law, the Medicaid patients have the right to care from the qualified provider of their choice.
State attorneys said in documents filed Wednesday that Planned Parenthood should have gone through an administrative process instead of to court. And they said the panel ruling is at odds with Supreme Court precedent regarding the extent of a Medicaid recipient's right to choose a care provider.
The appellate panel opinion was unanimous. A rehearing would require a vote of the majority of the current 15 active 5th Circuit judges.
Rejection by the full court wouldn't end the issue in Louisiana.
Jindal, a Republican who was term-limited, left office in January but he was succeeded by John Bel Edwards, an anti-abortion Democrat. Edwards pushed a bill through the last legislative session to block Planned Parenthood funding if the organization begins offering abortions in the state.
A Texas grand jury that looked into the videos cleared Planned Parenthood in January of misusing fetal tissue and indicted anti-abortion activists involved in making the videos. Prosecutors later dropped those charges, agreeing with defense attorneys that the grand jury exceeded its authority by investigating the activists.
– by AP Reporter Kevin McGill