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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ind. Decisions - "Planned Parenthood prevails at court: Justices won’t hear state’s bid to defund group over abortion"

Updating yesterday's ILB entry on the SCOTUS denial of cert in Planned Parenthood v. FSSA, here is Niki Kelly's story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, which begins:

INDIANAPOLIS – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday gave Planned Parenthood of Indiana a victory in an ongoing legal battle over an attempt by Indiana legislators to strip millions in funding because the group offers abortions.

The court chose not to review previous rulings against the state law disqualifying abortion providers from receiving Medicaid dollars for other services.

That means Planned Parenthood of Indiana can continue to collect Medicaid funding even as it continues to offer abortion services.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Indiana, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Planned Parenthood Federation of America initially challenged the law in 2011. The law would have prevented Medicaid patients from obtaining services such as cancer screenings and birth control at Planned Parenthood and other facilities that provide abortion care.

It is already against the law to use federal or state dollars to provide abortions.

In October 2012, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld a lower court injunction blocking the law.

And now the highest court in the land has declined to review the matter further.

Here is an AP story by Charles Wilson that begins:
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana will likely stop defending a law that stripped Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood after the Supreme Court declined to hear the case Tuesday, an attorney who represents the nation's largest abortion provider said.

Indiana is among more than a dozen states that have enacted or considered laws to prevent taxpayers' money from funding organizations that provide abortion. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 23 that the 2011 law targeting Planned Parenthood went too far because it denied women the right to choose their own medical providers.

"I assume at this point the state will give up in its claim that that portion of the statue is valid under the Social Security Act," said Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. The case now returns to U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, who granted the initial preliminary injunction to temporarily block the law, precipitating the state's appeals.

The Family and Social Services Administration — the agency tasked with enforcing the law — declined comment.

"My office always contended this is ultimately a dispute between the state and federal government, not between a private medical provider and the state," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement. Zoeller's office handled the state's appeal.

Gov. Mike Pence, a fierce opponent of Planned Parenthood during his time in Congress, said he will decide what to do after viewing his legal options.

"We're disappointed in the court's decision, we obviously strongly supported the efforts of 2011," Pence said Tuesday. "I continue to believe and feel strongly that taxpayers should not be required to support the largest abortion provider in America."

Jill Disis of the Indianapolis Star reports today in a story that begins:
An order from the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday might have finally signaled the end of Indiana’s two-year debate over blocking Planned Parenthood from getting Medicaid funding.

The justices refused to hear a challenge to a lower court ruling striking down a 2011 law that at the time made Indiana the first state in the nation to bar the organization from receiving federal money because it offers abortions. Under the law, Medicaid patients would have been barred from obtaining preventative health care services at Planned Parenthood health centers, and health care providers who perform abortions would have been penalized despite not using federal money for those services.

The law would have also defunded family planning programs throughout the state.

“We are happy that the Supreme Court’s action lets stand the Appeals Court ruling that the state does not have plenary authority to exclude a class of providers for any reason,” said Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana, in a statement issued Tuesday. “Federal law protects the right of Medicaid patients to choose a health care provider free of interference from the state.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Indiana, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Planned Parenthood Federation of America initially challenged the law, HEA 1210, in 2011.

A month after then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued a temporary injunction stopping it from taking effect.

Last October, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago upheld that injunction. The Indiana Attorney General’s office petitioned the Supreme Court in February.

“This is a major victory,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana. “This is something states simply cannot do in the Medicaid program.”

More from the Star story:
The case now heads back to the U.S. District Court that originally granted the preliminary injunction -- where the case likely will play out in Planned Parenthood’s favor, Falk said.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who argued the case of the state’s behalf, said in a statement the state will continue looking at any remaining legal avenues despite the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear their case and the appeals court decision. One outstanding issue, said Zoeller spokesman Bryan Corbin, is a separate administrative appeal of the state’s Medicaid plan.

Last July, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services upheld an earlier decision not to approve Indiana’s plan because of changes under the 2011 law. Zoeller’s office appealed that ruling, and they still are waiting for a final decision from the federal agency’s administrator.

Corbin said he did not know when that decision might come.

But David Orentlicher, a professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said it’s unlikely the state will win that appeal. * * *

Orentlicher also said he expected the U.S. District Court to rule in Planned Parenthood’s favor. If that’s the case, the Attorney General’s office could again challenge the ruling — but Orentlicher said there’s not much reason for doing so.

“You don’t have an injunction” stopping the law from taking effect, Orentlicher said. “The delay doesn’t do anything for the Attorney General to keep dragging it out other than shoring your base.

“I think this sets a pretty strong precedent for the rest of the country.”

Since 2011, Planned Parenthood has won legal battles against defunding its services in five states — Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 29, 2013 09:08 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions