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Obama Admin Defends Planned Parenthood Funding in Indiana

by Steven Ertelt | Indianapolis, IN | LifeNews.com | 6/17/11 10:15 AM

State

Late Thursday, the Obama administration filed legal papers supporting the lawsuit brought forward by the Planned Parenthood abortion business seeking to challenge the Indiana law revoking its taxpayer funding.

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. A federal judge held a hearing earlier this week on the law, (H.B. 1210), which would have the effect of defunding Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations that perform abortions. It 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.”

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt listened to oral arguments in the first hearing following her decision to deny Planned Parenthood’s initial request for an injunction against the law, which also puts several key abortion limits in place. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher and Ken Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Planned Parenthood of Indiana, appeared before Judge Pratt.

Now, the Associated Press indicates Justice Department officials sided with Planned Parenthood in new papers declaring the law unconstitutional and saying Judge Pratt should grant Planned Parenthood’s request for a permanent injunction because the law allegedly prohibits Medicaid recipients from going to the health care provider of their choice.

“The public interest strongly supports preserving the freedom of choice that Congress conferred,” the brief said.

Falk, the Planned Parenthood attorney, told AP he was surprised by the legal filing, saying, “I had no idea this was coming.”

UPDATE: Late Friday, Judge Pratt gave Indiana officials one week to respond to the new legal papers and Planned Parenthood agreed to the one week wait.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller told AP that the filing by the Justice Department “inappropriate.”

“The federal government’s surprise filing yesterday seems inappropriate as they should be heard in the administrative process and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that they have established for this purpose,” Zoeller said.

The brief followed the Obama administration telling Indiana officials that it can’t implement the new law, with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick saying the federal Medicaid law stipulates that states can’t exclude providers based on the services they provide. But Marcus Barlow, a spokesman for Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration, told National Journal Indiana would enforce the law, “The way the law was written, it went into effect the moment the governor signed it. We were just advised by our lawyers that we should continue to enforce Indiana law.”

Berwick rejected the changes to the Medicaid funding Indiana requested and the state has 60 days from June 1 to appeal the decision. Fisher, arguing for the state, told Judge Pratt during the hearing that because the appeal on the Berwick decision is forthcoming that an injunction should not be granted.

Indiana Right to Life president Mike Fichter condemned the Obama administration for siding with the abortion business.

“Last night’s after-hours brief by the U.S. Justice Department urging a federal judge to block Indiana’s right to defund Planned Parenthood is just one more stunning example of why we must all stand together in this fight to defend Indiana’s sovereignty against a federal administration that is bent on defending the business of killing unborn children,” he told LifeNews. “Abortion supporters are pouring money in to Indiana hand-over-fist because they know all eyes of the nation are now on the Hoosier state.”

“The abortion industry is worried that what is happening in Indiana will happen in states across the nation, and they are working hard to silence our voice and to keep your tax dollars subsidizing the business of abortion,” he said.

In its legal papers, Indiana argues that there is “no record that Planned Parenthood of Indiana makes any effort to either segregate Medicaid reimbursements from other unrestricted revenue sources or to allocate the cost of its various lines of business, whether abortion, family planning, cancer screenings, or other services.”

“This indicates that, while PPIN may not receive Medicaid reimbursements directly related to abortions, the Medicaid reimbursements it does receive are pooled or comingled with other monies it receives and thus help to pay for total operational costs,” the state said, making it so abortions or costs related to abortions are indirectly funded. (View the full document here: Memo in Opposition to Motion for Preliminary Injunction)

In addition, the state argues that the new law serves the public interest in three ways:  the funding qualification provision prevents taxpayer dollars from indirectly funding abortions; it advances the State’s goals of encouraging women to choose childbirth over abortion, and the informed consent requirements ensure that women who choose abortion have all the information necessary to make an informed and voluntary decision.

Governor Mitch Daniels signed the law, which 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.Three pro-life legal groups have weighed in on the case — including the American Center for Law and Justice, Alliance Defense Fund and Thomas More Society — and they have said the law is constitutional. 

Planned Parenthood of Indiana in 2008 suspended an employee after a video showed the staffer covering up a girl’s statutory rape. The video was a part of an earlier series of undercover investigations Live Action performed with a UCLA student, Lila Rose, posing as a 13-year old girl who had sexual relations with a 31-year-old man.

On tape, the Planned Parenthood nurse acknowledges her responsibility to report the abuse, but assures the student, Lila Rose, she will not.

“Okay, I didn’t hear the age [of the 31-year-old]. I don’t want to know the age,” she tells Rose.