Indiana Reps Tell Sebelius to OK Planned Parenthood De-Funding

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 1, 2011   |   1:26PM   |   Indianapolis, IN

Responding to a letter from U.S. Senate Democrats opposing the new Indiana law de-funding Planned Parenthood, eight members of the U.S. House delegation are defending the new pro-life statute.

Last month, some of the more ardent pro-abortion members of the Senate signed a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her to inform state Medicaid administrators that there are penalties for withholding the funds from Planned Parenthood.

That letter follows the plan of attack the Obama administration is expected to use as federal officials have 90 days to challenge the new law and 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. Yet, if the Obama administration follows through on the threat, it would hurt the poor Indiana residents the Medicaid program is designed to help.

Eight members of Indiana’s Congressional Delegation have co-signed a letter in support of Indiana’s law defunding Planned Parenthood to Sebelius urging the HHS to respect the intent of the Indiana state legislature and to accept the will of the people of Indiana. A focal point of the Indiana Congressional Delegation’s letter is support for Indiana’s closing of public funding loopholes that undermine the spirit of Hyde Amendment restrictions on federal monies, particularly when public funds for non-abortion services are used to pay for total operational costs.

“In reality, by paying for total operational costs, these subsidies free other funds for abortions,” the letter states.  “Passage of HEA 1210 has effectively closed any potential loophole and committed Hoosiers to the true intent of the Hyde Amendment.”

The State of Indiana underscored these concerns last week by asserting that Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s audited financial statements for 2009-2010 “provide no record that PPIN makes any effort either to segregate Medicaid reimbursements from other unrestricted revenue sources or to allocate the costs of its various lines of business.”

The Indiana Congressional Delegation letter also affirms that Indiana’s new law fulfills Medicaid’s commitment to non-abortion services, noting, “Despite consistent claims to the contrary, Indiana law does not change Medicaid recipients’ benefits. It only changes where Hoosiers receive their benefits.”

Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter applauded the new letter in comments to LifeNews.

“The majority of Indiana’s congressional delegation has spoken clearly in support of Indiana’s right to end public funding for businesses that do abortions in Indiana,” he said. “We trust that Secretary Sebelius will respect this right and will affirm Indiana’s right to structure its own Medicaid program.”

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.

Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of the law and filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis 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.