Indiana: Some Donations to Planned Parenthood Not Tax-Deductible

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 13, 2011   |   3:07PM   |   Indianapolis, IN

Relying on a new law that Planned Parenthood has taken to court to strip it of taxpayer funding under Medicaid, Indiana officials have said the abortion business is no longer qualified to participate in a tax rebate program.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana has used the tax credit program to help raise funds and, over the last two years, the Indianapolis Star indicates it raised $21,238 in Marion County alone through the program. But, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority notified Planned Parenthood today that it rejected Planned Parenthood’s application to participate in the Neighborhood Assistance Program for a third year.

The newspaper indicates the program has allocated $2.5 million in tax credits annually to organizations to give to donors as a way of deducting their contributions from state income taxes, but Planned Parenthood may no longer participate.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Becky Cockrum complained in a statement today about the decision.

“The state is taking yet another step to keep us from providing affordable health care to our patients,” she groused. “And they’re doing it at a time when we need our donors’ assistance badly. Our supporters are the only reason we are able to cover the costs of treating our established Medicaid patients through June 20.”

The Star reports that Sherry Seiwert, executive director of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, cited the new law de-funding Planned Parenthood as the reason for denying the abortion business participation in the tax rebate program. Although the Obama administration has threatened state officials by declaring it would potentially withhold billions in Medicaid funds from the state if it follows through with the new law, the state has announced it would implement it immediately and is standing up in court to defend what it says is its right to determine how Medicaid dollars are allocated.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt initially refused to issue a restraining order for Planned Parenthood to block the law while the lawsuit moves forward and she is expected to rule later this month on a request for a permanent one.

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. 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 state argues that there is “no record that PPIN 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.

“The state’s thorough and well-reasoned defense of HEA 1210 underscores that this new law is on solid legal footing,” Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter told LifeNews in response.

The Obama administration told the state it can’t implement the new law, with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick denying a request to deny funds 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.”

Leading pro-life group’s blasted the Obama administration’s decision to stand in the way.

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.

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.