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Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal of lower court decision striking down Indiana’s abortion funding law

by | May 28, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

US Supreme CourtWithout comment the United States Supreme Court today refused to consider Indiana’s appeal of a lower court decision that struck down a state law that denies Medicaid funding for businesses and organizations performing abortions, except for hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers. The challenge to the 2011 law came from Planned Parenthood Indiana (PPIN), represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

PPIN is Indiana’s largest abortion provider, performing more than 5,000 abortions each year.

The case now returns to U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt who granted the preliminary injunction to temporarily block the law in June 2011. PPIN obviously hopes to see Judge Pratt make the injunction permanent.

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, “said the court rulings leave intact the state’s power to block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal grants through the U.S. Department of Health, but those funds were a far smaller amount than the money the organization received from Medicaid.”

PPIN had challenged the law immediately. In June 2011 Judge Pratt blocked the state from enforcing the law, citing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ rejection of the state’s plan. “Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider’s scope of practice,” Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Donald Berwick wrote to Patricia Cassanova, the director of Indiana’s office of Medicaid Policy and Planning. “Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers.”

Indiana immediately appealed Judge Pratt’s injunction, “arguing that federal law says Medicaid cannot be used to cover abortions in most circumstances and that the program indirectly funds the procedures by providing money for Planned Parenthood,” the Associated Press reported.

Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter said, “The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear Indiana versus Planned Parenthood is incredibly disappointing for taxpayers and states’ rights. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the state’s largest abortion business.” He added, “The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear this case is also a defeat for all states that wish to pass laws regarding funds in their own states. We believe the court system failed taxpayers by blocking the 2011 law that defunded Indiana abortion providers.”

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Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, NRLC’s director of State Legislation, told NRL News Today, “A state is not required to subsidize abortion, directly or indirectly, and is totally within its right when it passes laws to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to the abortion industry.” She pointed out that an appeals court upheld a similar Texas law, adding, “There is no right, constitutional or otherwise, to have taxpayers pay for abortion.”

“The most troubling aspect of the decision is that now the Indiana taxpayers are being forced by court order to continue to pay for abortions,” Balch said. “Whether it’s direct or indirect, Planned Parenthood is going to have more money to spend that will enable them to do more abortions.”

Categories: PPFA