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Indiana May Fight Obama Admin to De-Fund Planned Parenthood

by Steven Ertelt | Indianapolis, IN | LifeNews.com | 7/10/12 12:34 PM

State

Despite the Obama administration declaring Indiana’s bid to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business invalid for the second time, the state is considering fighting for its right to revoke taxpayer funding for it under Medicaid.

As LifeNews Reported, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of the Department of Health and Human Services issued a letter saying the state law de-funding Planned parenthood invalid for the first time in June 2011. The state appealed that decision, but the Obama administration, late last week, ruled again that it was invalid, claming it violates the “Free Choice of Provider” provision in federal Medicaid law.

That law says any individual who qualifies for Medicaid may seek services from a qualified provider and the state may not deny them access to those services. But Indiana argues it is following an extension of federal law which prohibits Medicaid dollars from paying for abortions, or in this case indirectly subsidizing them.

The state is not taking the decision lying down and has filed an appeal asking for the agency to reassess its ruling. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller released a statement responding to the ruling and addressing the appeal.

“Like any other petitioner who is entitled to a hearing, the State of Indiana appreciated the opportunity to try to explain to CMS the Indiana Legislature’s public policy decision that private providers ought not indirectly subsidize abortion procedures through Medicaid dollars and that the legislation had that separation in mind,” he said.

Zoeller’s office it also reviewing whether to continue the legal challenge to uphold the law defunding Planned Parenthood in federal court. Last year, Judge Tonya Walton Pratt an injunction against the pro-life law Governor Mitch Daniels signed. The Indiana attorney general’s office appealed to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and that case is pending.

His office also indicated Indiana can file an exception to the Obama administration’s recommendation before the CMS Administrators reach a final decision.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana President and CEO Betty Cockrum. applauded the Obama administration in its own statement.

“We are gratified by the federal government’s decision and thrilled that we continue to be able to provide preventive health care to our patients. Through its appeal, the State was continuing its attack on women’s rights,” she claimed.

Mike Fichter, the president of Indiana Right to life, responded to the latest attack on de-funding, in comments to LifeNews: “We are deeply troubled by the Obama administration’s continued rejection of Indiana’s right to end Medicaid funding for Indiana’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood, even after expert testimony concluded that ‘there is a significant probability that Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood cross-subsidize its abortion services.’”

“Once again, the administration is revealing its absolute disdain for states rights while propping up the business of abortion at the expense of Hoosier taxpayers. Fortunately, this is not the final ruling. We remain confident that Indiana will prevail and that Hoosiers will have the confidence of knowing their tax dollars are not paying for abortions,” he said.

Previously, 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. Afterwards, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick said 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.

A federal judge held a hearing last year 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.”

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.

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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.