Planned Parenthood has filed its 17th lawsuit against a state since last July, this time against Mississippi.
The Magnolia state passed a law that eliminates the abortion business’ Medicaid funding.
The only Planned Parenthood clinic in Hattiesburg does not perform abortions, and has taken less than $1,000 in Medicaid funding in each of the past five years. However, Mississippi Senate Medicaid Committee chairman Brice Wiggins (R) said after the state Senate voted to approve the defunding measure, “You are the company you keep and by Mississippi reimbursing Planned Parenthood through Medicaid, we are keeping that company.”
Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit claims that while the Hattiesburg clinic does not provide abortions, other clinics operated by the Southeast affiliate in Alabama and Georgia offer the procedure, reports the Associated Press. In addition, Planned Parenthood says its affiliate in Memphis, Tennessee also provides abortions and now accepts Mississippi Medicaid payments.
“We will not stand for these attacks on our patients’ right to health care,” Staci Fox, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said in a statement.
According to the new legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant (R) in May and is effective as of July 1, Medicaid funds cannot be spent on any facility that either performs abortions directly, or is affiliated with an abortion provider. The new law was modeled after one passed in Texas.
“The idea that we would take state tax dollars, which these are, and provide to an entity like Planned Parenthood, which is the number one abortion provider in the country, is just mind blowing,” state Sen. Joey Fillingane (R), the law’s sponsor, said, reports WDAM. “I can’t believe that we would do it, and when I found out that we were in fact making some small reimbursements to Planned Parenthood in Mississippi, I just had to file a bill.”
Fillingane added the new law does not restrict services to women since the state has many other health care centers that do not perform abortions.
“So it’s not as though you’re denying any services to, you know, poor women or women that can’t afford these treatments,” he said. “The only difference is the Mississippi Department of Health and the health clinics are not also providing abortions, and so the monies that we send to those agencies do not also subsidize abortions in the state or in this country.”
According to Getyourcare.org – a website that helps women find affordable federally qualified health care centers that accept Medicaid payments – there are at least 20 such health care facilities within a 25-mile radius of Hattiesburg.
Conservatives in the state House say it is their job to defend unborn lives.
“In Mississippi our mission as conservatives is to fight for the unborn and that fight doesn’t involve walking in fear of Planned Parenthood,” state Rep. Steve Hopkins (R) told Breitbart News. “The voters in our great state elected us to take a stand and they will not stand idly by and let those continue to serve who don’t have a steel backbone. If Planned Parenthood wants to pick a fight with a state it might want to pick one it can win.”
In anticipation of a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood against Mississippi in March, state Rep. Dana Criswell (R) told Breitbart News, “It is the responsibility of our attorney general to defend all Mississippians. The people of this state are appalled at the thought that their tax dollars are being used to support an organization that kills unborn children.”
Former GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has encouraged states to take the lead in defunding Planned Parenthood after the Republican-led Congress refused to do so.
“I encourage every state legislature and every governor to stand up and lead on Planned Parenthood,” Cruz told Breitbart News last year during an interview. “Unfortunately, Republican leadership in Washington is unwilling to lead and, indeed, it’s Republican leadership who’s joined with Barack Obama in leading the fight to preserve taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.”