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Obama Admin May Target Indiana Law De-Funding Planned Parenthood

by Steven Ertelt | Indianapolis, IN | LifeNews.com | 5/23/11 3:19 PM

State

Not content that its friends at Planned Parenthood are losing out on taxpayer funds in Indiana, the Obama administration is considering challenging the law, which the state is already enforcing.

Governor Mitch Daniels signed the law, which would cut off anywhere from $2 million to $3 million the Planned Parenthood abortion business receives in federal funds via the Indiana government through Medicaid.

The law also contains several pro-life provisions that directly affect abortion, such as banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on fetal pain. The legislation also contains provisions to end all state-directed funding for businesses that do abortions, to protect pain-capable unborn children beginning at 20 weeks, to opt-out of abortion coverage in any state health exchanges required under the new federal health law, to require that women considering abortion be given full, factual information in writing, and to require doctors who do abortions, or their designees, to maintain local hospital admitting privileges in order to streamline access to emergency care for women injured by abortion.

Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of the law and filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis yesterday just hours after Daniels signed the legislation into law. It alleges the law would violate contracts already in place between it and the state and that it forces Planned Parenthood to choose between doing abortions and getting taxpayer funding.

However, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt declined to issue the injunction while she takes more time to analyze the legal issues involved in the lawsuit. That type of decision is usually an indicator that the judge will eventually issue a ruling against the party bringing the lawsuit.

Now, the New York Times reports the Obama administration may exercise its right to federal review of the law, because of the changes to Medicaid, and Obama official told the newspaper the administration will not approve the changes as adopted by Indiana. Although federal officials have 90 days to challenge the new law, the Obama administration may move sooner because of the current enforcement of it. The challenge may come in the form of partially or totally withholding federal Medicaid money from Indiana and threatening to do so often makes states comply. Of course, if the Obama administration follows through on the threat, it would hurt the poor Indiana residents the Medicaid program is designed to help.

The Times also indicates that the Obama administration is not a party to the lawsuit Planned Parenthood of Indiana filed against the law, but its move to challenge the law by threatening to revoke funding could make an impact on how the lower court handles the case, which it is expected to hear in two weeks.

Current federal law prohibits using the tax money to pay for almost any abortion, but the money can still go to groups like Planned Parenthood that do abortions and frees up funds they may otherwise spend on legitimate medical services to go to paying for or providing abortions. The Indiana law says any entity that does abortions is not eligible to receive the Medicaid funding.

“The state law is in effect right now,” said Marcus J. Barlow, a spokesman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, told the newspaper. “Medicaid clients who went to Planned Parenthood will have to go to someone else. This is not a change in services. It’s a change in providers.”

Judge Pratt’s decision makes it so the millions in cuts takes effect immediately while the abortion provisions would take effect July 1. She indicated she did not think Indiana officials had enough time to respond to the lawsuit and said Planned Parenthood did not show it would suffer irreparable harm without a temporary restraining order.

Sue Swayze, legislative director of Indiana Right to Life, told the Star, “We’ve done some legal research ourselves and think that it’s going to stand. It might actually, once approved, become a model for the rest of the country.”

That is the view of a national pro-life legal group, the Alliance Defense Fund, which says the new law is constitutionally valid.

The pro-life legal group provided a legal opinion to Governor Daniels which dispels rumors that a legislature-approved bill defunding abortionists will endanger the state’s Medicaid funds.

The bill, known as the Schneider Amendment (H.B. 1210), would have the effect of defunding Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations that perform abortions; however, the ADF opinion explains that the bill does not conflict with federal mandates and does not target any particular organization for exclusion from the Medicaid program. Federal appeals courts have upheld similar bills in Texas and Missouri.

“The precious tax dollars of the people of Indiana should not be funneled to abortionists, especially during tough economic times,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “The Indiana Legislature has worded a bill that allows them to be good stewards of the people’s money in this regard without fear of jeopardizing other funding that is clearly not at issue in this bill. In fact, if the governor signs the bill and it is ever attacked in court, ADF would offer to assist in mounting a legal defense of the law free of charge.”

The Schneider Amendment states that no state agency may enter into a contract with or make a grant to “any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed that involves the expenditure of state funds or federal funds administered by the state.”

The ADF letter explains that if the bill becomes law, “the State of Indiana would merely be applying its own congruent conditions for eligibility for qualified provider status under Medicaid, and not imposing conditions inconsistent with federal guidelines.”

Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter

notes that Planned Parenthood’s legal action proves that abortion is central to Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s business plan.

“Planned Parenthood consistently claims that abortion is a small part of its operations,” says Fichter.  “If that were true, it would simply need to stop doing surgical and chemical abortions in Indiana to remain eligible to apply for state-directed funding.  It is clear that they do not wish to walk away from the revenue stream created by over 5,000 abortions every year in Indiana.”

Planned Parenthood of Indiana currently operates three abortion clinics in Indianapolis, Merrillville, and Bloomington that collectively account for over half of Indiana’s roughly 10,000 abortions each year. Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s annual operating budget regularly exceeds $15 million. The defunding provision of HEA 1210 would impact an estimated $3 million of that funding but would have no impact on its revenue from abortions and other services or direct private support.

Contrary to Planned Parenthood’s claims that low-income women will lose access to health care in Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels has affirmed that there are 800 Medicaid providers in the counties in which centers related to Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses stand to lose access to state-directed funding. There are 231 Medicaid providers in the three counties in which Planned Parenthood currently operates its Indiana abortion clinics.

“This is all about abortion, money, and a complete disregard for overwhelming, bipartisan action by Indiana’s representative legislature,” says Fichter.  ”Planned Parenthood is hoping the courts will do what they cannot do at the ballot box or at the Statehouse, and that is to force Hoosiers to support its operations with public funds.”

The Planned Parenthood lawsuit also challenges the provisions against abortion by claiming that requiring abortion practitioners to give women certain information is a violation of the First Amendment.