Pro-Life Firm Defends Indiana Law De-Funding Planned Parenthood

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 5, 2011   |   12:34PM   |   Indianapolis, IN

A pro-life law firm has filed legal papers with an appeals court defending the law the state recently-approved that revokes taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

Indiana has appealed a judge’s ruling in June blocking an Indiana law that protects taxpayers from having to fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business with public funds via family planning programs through Medicaid.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in Indianapolis granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed after Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed the law in May. Now, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed legal papers with a federal appeals court seeking to lift the injunction so Planned Parenthood can be de-funded while the lawsuit it filed against the state continues.

Indiana filed papers with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals responding to the injunction the Planned Parenthood of Indiana and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana received. The papers, according to an AP report, have the state arguing that Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be the main party in the lawsuit because it involves a dispute between the state and federal government — not only one individual organization or business denied money under the law preventing funding of abortion agencies.

This week, the Thomas More Society filed a “friend of the court” brief to support the Indiana efforts to defend the law. The brief, also filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, came on behalf of 60 members of the Indiana legislature in opposition to Planned Parenthood’s assertion that defunding abortion providers imposes an “unconstitutional condition” on physicians’ alleged right to perform abortions.

The brief states that “abortion providers have no constitutionally recognized Fourteenth Amendment right to perform abortions” and that funding restrictions would not “interfere with the ability of pregnant women to obtain abortions. Accordingly, because the constitutional rights of women seeking abortions have not been violated, neither has the asserted right of their providers.”

In the trial court, the Thomas More Society scored a partial victory when U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt denied Planned Parenthood’s request to block a provision of an Indiana law that requires doctors to tell women who are seeking abortions that “human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.”

Thomas More Society attorneys had also filed a “friend of the court” brief in the trial court on behalf of the Indiana legislators, defending both this provision and the provision of the law defunding Planned Parenthood.

“We’re proud to represent the members of the Indiana General Assembly in doing the will of the people, both in preventing tax dollars from being used to support abortion providers and in ensuring that women considering abortion are fully informed about the nature of the procedure,” said Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel of the pro-life legal group.

Read the brief here.