Members of Congress Back Indiana Planned Parenthood De-Funding

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 8, 2011   |   4:54PM   |   Washington, DC

More than 40 members of Congress have banded together to file papers with a federal appeals court defending a state law that revokes taxpayer funding from the nation’s biggest abortion business.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a pro-life legal group, today urged a federal appeals court, on behalf of 41 members of Congress and more than 25,000 Americans who signed petitions in support of the law, to reverse a lower court decision and uphold an Indiana law that prohibits federal funds from going to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.

The ACLJ filed an amicus brief backing the Indiana law saying it is consistent with federal statutes and is constitutionally sound. The brief follows one from the Thomas More Law Center for state legislators who also want to have the law defended.

“The state of Indiana and other states do have the constitutional authority to determine how it spends federal funds,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counselor for the ACLJ. “The fact is that Planned Parenthood receives more than $350-million a year in taxpayer funds. Indiana’s decision to no longer use federal money to fund the nation’s largest abortion provider is not only a constitutionally sound decision, but one we hope is implemented in other states across the country.”

The new law provides, in pertinent part: “An agency of the state may not: (1) enter into a contract with; or (2) 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 lawsuit by Planned Parenthood claims the Indiana law violates a federal statute, but the ACLJ friend-of-the-court brief argues that the Indiana measure is appropriate and constitutional.

“HEA 1210 is not rendered unreasonable or inconsistent with federal Medicaid law simply because it bolsters Indiana’s strong interests in encouraging childbirth and ensuring that abortions are not directly or indirectly subsidized by public funds,” the brief contends. “Indiana may reasonably conclude that sending large sums of public funds to abortion providers that also provide non-abortion services within the same organization serves to indirectly subsidize abortion activities.”

The brief asserts that Indiana has a legal right to determine how the Medicaid dollars entrusted to it for administering are distributed.

According to the brief: “Federal Medicaid statutes and regulations give States broad discretion to craft the rules applicable to their Medicaid programs. Congress left intact the States’ authority to determine what makes an entity qualified to provide Medicaid services, 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(p)(1), while ensuring that Medicaid recipients may utilize any practitioner deemed to be qualified under State law, 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23). Since HEA 1210 does not limit a beneficiary’s ability to choose among providers that are deemed to be qualified, it is consistent with federal Medicaid law.”

Further, the ACLJ brief urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to overturn the lower court decision saying it is concerned by the Plaintiff’s “novel claim that abortion providers have a constitutional right to perform abortions and receive public funds; if accepted, this argument would unduly restrict the policy discretion that Congress and state and local governments have to decide how to spend public funds.”

The ACLJ represents the entire Republican delegation representing Indiana in the U.S. House: Marlin Stutzman, Todd Rokita, Dan Burton, Mike Pence, Larry Bucshon, Todd Young.

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.

The ACLJ represents a total of 41 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, members of the 112th Congress: Michele Bachmann, Larry Bucshon, Dan Burton, Francisco “Quico” Canseco, Michael Conaway, John Fleming, Bill Flores, Randy Forbes, Virginia Foxx, Trent Franks, Scott Garrett, Vicky Hartzler, Jeb Hensarling, Tim Huelskamp, Randy Hultgren, Lynn Jenkins, Bill Johnson, Walter Jones, Jim Jordan, Mike Kelly, Steve King, John Kline, Doug Lamborn, Jeff Landry, James Lankford, Robert Latta, Kenny Marchant, Thaddeus McCotter, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jeff Miller, Alan Nunnelee, Ron Paul, Mike Pence, Joe Pitts, Mike Pompeo, Todd Rokita, Chris Smith, Lamar Smith, Marlin Stutzman, Glenn Thompson, and Todd Young.