Planned Parenthood is once again open to Medicaid patients in Indiana, following a preliminary injunction late last week by a federal judge that blocked the state’s move to defund the organization.
Since May 10, Planned Parenthood has been without Medicaid funding due to a newly passed state law that stripped existing and future Medicaid payments from any non-hospital entity that performs abortions, and has had to turn away patients since HB 1210 went into effect on June 20. Federal officials objected to the law, saying that it illegally blocks Medicaid recipients’ ability to access family planning providers, and threatened to withdraw around $4 million in family planning grants.
“Denying the injunction could pit the federal government against the State of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse,” U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt wrote in the ruling. “And if dogma trumps pragmatism and neither side budges, Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens could end up paying the price as the collateral damage of a partisan battle.”
Indeed, as Akiba Solomon previously reported for Colorlines, poor black women stand to lose the most from the new law: “Of [Planned Parenthood Indiana’s] 9,300 Medicaid patients, six percent were Latino and a whopping 40 percent were black. Forty percent. In other words, African-Americans are particularly vulnerable to state lawmakers’ funding games. ”
Planned Parenthood is the state’s largest reproductive health care provider, and offers patients preventative care like breast exams, Pap tests, cervical cancer screening, as well as STD testing and treatment, birth control and family planning services. Four of Indiana’s 28 Planned Parenthood clinics perform first-trimester abortions, the Associated Press reports, but Planned Parenthood Indiana president and CEO Betty Cockrum told Solomon that the $1.4 million the organization receives yearly in Medicaid reimbursements are for preventative care only, and federal money can’t be used for abortions under the Hyde Amendment, meaning that none of the federal funds go towards abortions.
The judge also blocked a provision in the law that requires women seeking an abortion to be told that fetuses can feel pain at or before 20 weeks after fertilization, but allowed a section that requires doctors to tell such women that “human physical life” begins at conception to stand.
Since Congress voted against de-funding Planned Parenthood at the national level, right wing groups have taken to state budgets to take funds away from the organization. In recent months, state legislators in Tennessee, Kansas, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and most recently Wisconsin have succeeded in limiting funding for Planned Parenthood. Similar measures are also in the works in Oklahoma and Texas. Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that requires doctors to perform an ultrasound regardless of medical necessity before every abortion.
Indiana is expected to appeal last Friday’s injunction, most likely to the U.S. 7th Circuit. “This is a positive step in what likely will be a long legal battle,” Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana told Reuters. “We are encouraged by the judge’s ruling, but know our work is not yet done.”