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Third Pro-Life Legal Group Backs Indiana Planned Parenthood Law

by Steven Ertelt | Indianapolis, IN | LifeNews.com | 6/6/11 11:06 AM

State

A third pro-life legal group has issued an opinion defending the new law in Indiana that puts abortion limits in place and also revokes funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) informed LifeNews.com today that it will file an amicus brief, representing members of Congress and thousands of Americans, backing a new Indiana law that prohibits the distribution of federal funds it receives to organizations like Planned Parenthood that perform abortions.

“We applaud Indiana’s approach to taking action to stop the flow of federal taxpayer funds to the nation’s largest abortion provider,” said Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the pro-life legal group.

“With Planned Parenthood already receiving more than $350 million dollars a year in federal taxpayer funds, Indiana is sending a powerful message to Washington – it’s time to put a halt to sending federal funds to Planned Parenthood,” Sekulow said. “The new law already cleared one legal hurdle last month when a federal judge refused to issue a Temporary Restraining Order blocking the law.  As this issue winds its way through the federal court system, we’re preparing to file an amicus brief on Indiana’s behalf in support of this law and its constitutional authority to ensure that no federal funds are used for abortion.”

Planned Parenthood, with the assistance of the ACLU, a pro-abortion legal organization, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the measure after Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed it into law last month. The Obama Administration announced it is urging Indiana to scrap the new law, claiming it violates a federal statute. A hearing is taking place today in federal court as Planned Parenthood seeks a preliminary injunction to block the law.

“It’s no surprise that Planned Parenthood has mounted a legal challenge,” Sekulow added. “The nation’s largest abortion provider certainly doesn’t want to lose millions in federal taxpayer dollars – funds that enable Planned Parenthood to free-up other money to pay for abortions.  It’s also no surprise that the Obama Administration would defend a pro-abortion organization.”

Previously, the Alliance Defense Fund, another 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.”

After that, the Thomas More Society, another pro-life legal organization, backed the law as well and filed a “friend of the Court” brief for Indiana legislators in defense of Indiana’s newly enacted law.

The TMS brief supports the state’s defense against Planned Parenthood’s current effort to persuade Federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, who presides in the Southern District of Indiana in Indianapolis, to block enforcement of Indiana’s new law and strike it down as unconstitutional.

Filed on behalf of more than 60 members from both houses of the Indiana General Assembly, the TMS brief argues defends the constitutionality of Indiana’s new law and urges that it continue to be enforced.  Authored by Thomas More Society’s special counsel Paul Linton, the brief argues:

First, Planned Parenthood has not proven that the funding restriction would interfere with, let alone impose any “undue burden” on, the ability of any pregnant woman to obtain an abortion in Indiana, and abortion providers themselves have no constitutional right to perform abortions separate and independent from the right of their women patients to obtain one.

Second, the new law does not coerce physicians or other health professionals to embrace or proclaim an ideological viewpoint with which they disagree, but only requires such professionals in a legitimate exercise of the state’s regulatory authority to provide patients with medically and scientifically accurate “truthful, non-misleading information.”

Third, medical and scientific authority proves that Indiana’s mandated physician advice to prospective abortion patients that “human physical life … begins with fertilization” is objectively true and accurate.

“Planned Parenthood’s federal lawsuit is meritless,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of Chicago’s Thomas More Society.  “And despite pressure from U.S. Senators that support Planned Parenthood, we trust that this Indiana lawsuit will fail and that other states will follow Indiana’s lead.”

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 and provisions 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.