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Supreme Court gives South Carolina the chance to defend defunding Planned Parenthood

by | Jun 21, 2023

By Dave Andrusko

The Washington Examiner’s Gabrielle M. Etzel succinctly describes the Supreme Court’s action yesterday:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a lower court order blocking South Carolina’s attempt to prevent Medicaid funding from going to Planned Parenthood, sending the case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gov. Henry McMaster lauded the High Court’s decision in Kerr v. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic:

“I am pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today and  look forward to the Fourth Circuit thoughtfully reconsidering its previous ruling,” said Gov. McMaster. “Just as I was when I issued Executive Order No. 2018-21, I remain confident in South Carolina’s authority to administer its Medicaid program and the decision to terminate Planned Parenthood’s funding. I am hopeful that the Fourth Circuit will recognize that Congress did not intend to give Medicaid recipients the ability to force States to subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.”

The Supreme Court’s action overturned last year’s ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that blocked South Carolina’s from prohibiting taxpayer funds from going to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. “The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) appealed that decision, and yesterday the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit for reconsideration in light of the Supreme Court’s recent opinion in another matter,” according to the governor’s office. 

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Julie Edwards, a patient, sued when Gov. McMaster removed Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from the state’s health agency Medicaid provider  network.

U.S. District Judge Mary Lewis temporarily blocked McMaster’s rule, “deciding that states can’t exclude health care providers from Medicaid programs for reasons unrelated to any potential inability to perform services covered by the joint federal and state program,” reported Reuter’s Andrew Chung.

In  2019, the Fourth Circuit upheld that decision and later affirmed Judge Lewis’s subsequent permanent injunction.

According to Etzel

South Carolina has been at the heart of the abortion debate in recent weeks. Within less than 24 hours of McMaster signing a fetal heartbeat bill that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic was awarded an emergency injunction blocking the legislation from being implemented.

The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on June 27. “This will be three days after the one-year anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision that overturned the constitutional interpretation that recognized federally protected abortion rights,” Etzel wrote.

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