Planned Parenthood Gets Another Reprieve From Federal Judge in Louisiana

AP Photo/Richard Shiro
AP Photo/Richard Shiro

A federal judge in Baton Rouge says Louisiana must continue to fund Planned Parenthood affiliates in that state for 14 more days. The ruling involves a lawsuit filed by the abortion business over Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent order to terminate its Medicaid funding according to the state’s contract.

U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles issued the order, and the legal battle will now continue. A hearing date will be set after a Monday telephone status conference, reports ABC News. Without the order Louisiana’s funding of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) would have ended Monday according to the state’s Medicaid contract with the organization that allows either party to cancel the contract at will with 30 days notice.

“In fact, uncontradicted evidence in the record at this time is that PPGC does not perform abortions in Louisiana, is not involved in the sale of fetal tissue and none of the conduct in question occurred at the PPGC’s two Louisiana facilities,” deGravelles wrote in his 59-page ruling. He added it appears likely Planned Parenthood will be able to prove that the termination of Medicaid funding was being attempted for reasons unrelated to the organization’s competence.

The decision is being watched by several other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, and Utah, which have also been sued by Planned Parenthood following the termination of Medicaid contracts with the organization.

In Alabama, U.S. District Judge Myron Thomson said Gov. Robert Bentley’s administration must explain to Planned Parenthood why it is terminating its Medicaid contract with the abortion provider’s affiliates in its state.

“To use an old phrase, Where’s the beef? Where’s the cause?” Thomson said, noting that he was not immediately ruling on a preliminary injunction to restore the Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood Southeast.

In Arkansas, Planned Parenthood is seeking class-action status in its lawsuit against the state. U.S. District Judge Kristene Baker issued a preliminary injunction earlier in October that requires the state to continue providing Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH). The judge said in her order the plaintiffs – three Jane Does – would suffer irreparable harm if she did not issue the injunction.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would then direct the state Department of Human Services to prohibit funding to Planned Parenthood for all services except those provided to three plaintiffs, identified as Jane Does Nos. 1-3. The state is also appealing the preliminary injunction.

“To ensure that all PPH’s Medicaid patients can continue to receive health care services at PPH, plaintiffs seek to convert this case to a class action,” the abortion business said in the motion for class action status, according to Arkansas News.

In Utah, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled last week that Gov. Gary Herbert’s administration must continue Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding for the time being. The state said it will continue to fund Planned Parenthood until the end of 2015, reports the New York Times, but will block the funds at that time if the court does not extend the ruling again.

The Obama administration – a long-time supporter of Planned Parenthood – has threatened action against states that eliminate the group’s Medicaid funding. In Louisiana, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a brief in support of Planned Parenthood in early September that claimed federal law overrides Jindal’s action to block the organization’s Medicaid funding:

Louisiana has not proffered sufficient reasons to terminate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. (PPGC) from its Medicaid program. Terminating PPGC from its Medicaid program without providing any justification related to PPGC’s qualifications to provide medical services would violate Louisiana’s obligations under the Medicaid statute’s ‘free choice of provider’ provision. States do not have unfettered discretion to determine that a provider is not ‘qualified’ for purposes of federal Medicaid law.

Planned Parenthood remains under investigation by several congressional committees in the wake of the release of undercover videos that expose the organization’s apparent practice of harvesting the body parts of unborn babies for sale. Members of Congress are now reviewing all the unedited footage since a judge’s ruling has allowed all the videos to be released from a temporary restraining order and sent to Congress for review.

Planned Parenthood denies any wrongdoing in its sale of body parts, but also released a statement last week announcing it will no longer accept payments for aborted fetal tissue. The abortion business continues to insist the videos, produced by Center for Medical Progress, were “deceptively edited.” A Democrat opposition research firm named Fusion – hired by Planned Parenthood – to review the videos said while their analysts observed the videos had been edited, “the analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.”

Additionally, Fusion noted, “[A]nalysts found no evidence that CMP inserted dialogue not spoken by Planned Parenthood staff.”

An analysis by Coalfire, a third-party forensics company hired by Alliance Defending Freedom, found that the videos were “not manipulated” and that they are “authentic.”

On the federal level, the House Budget Committee has approved a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood for one year and redirect those federal funds to community health centers that do not provide abortions. The measure approves the use of reconciliation, a budgetary tool that allows the bill to bypass a Democrat filibuster in the Senate and pass with 51 votes in that chamber. However it is unclear if Republicans will have enough votes to pass the legislation even with only 51 votes required.

Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has come out in full support of Planned Parenthood. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday, “Planned Parenthood should absolutely be defunded.”

GOP 2016 candidate Sen. Ted Cruz urged states recently to “take the lead” in defunding Planned Parenthood.

“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,” Cruz told Breitbart News.


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