Louisiana lawmakers’ efforts to defund the abortion chain Planned Parenthood stalled again this week when a federal appeals court decided not to rehear the case.
The AP reports the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was closely divided on the decision Tuesday in a 7 to 7 vote. Because of the tie vote and three vacancies on the court, the previous ruling remains in effect.
Earlier this year, attorneys for the state asked the appeals court to rehear the case because Justice Priscilla Owen changed her ruling. In July, Owen issued a new opinion in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood, citing a 1980 Supreme Court ruling involving Pennsylvania regulators revoking Medicaid funds from a nursing home.
Louisiana and many other states moved to defund Planned Parenthood of tax dollars after a series of undercover videos exposed its baby body parts trade. There are signs that the FBI currently may be investigating whether Planned Parenthood broke the law by selling aborted baby body parts.
But Planned Parenthood took Louisiana to court in an attempt to preserve its taxpayer funding. In its lawsuit, the abortion business accused the state of being “politically motivated” and claimed that it would cut off women’s access to health care.
Even though hundreds of other health care options exist for the small number of women who get non-abortion care at Planned Parenthood, the 5th Circuit judges agreed with Planned Parenthood’s claim that de-funding it would somehow strip women of their health care.
Here’s more about the latest development:
Tuesday’s 7-7 was announced in a brief notice issued by the original three-judge panel. It was accompanied by a more than four-page dissent written by Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, joined by Owen and five others. …
“As a result of the majority opinion’s holding, a Medicaid provider can now make an end run around the administrative exhaustion requirements in a state’s statutory scheme,” Elrod wrote.
It won’t be the court’s final say in the case — the decision upheld a preliminary injunction in a case still pending in district court. But Elrod lamented that Tuesday’s opinion “is binding precedent that will guide the development of law in our circuit.”
The decision comes just a few weeks after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Arkansas may defund the abortion chain.
In August 2015, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal canceled a state contract with Planned Parenthood that provides the abortion company with family planning funding through Medicaid. Planned Parenthood quickly sued to block the move.
Jindal said at the time: “In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life. It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state.”
Louisiana lawmakers did not give up. In 2016, they passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups that abort unborn babies. The bill insures that businesses and organizations that perform abortions cannot receive taxpayer dollars, even for non-abortion purposes.
Planned Parenthood receives about half a billion taxpayer dollars annually. It is the largest abortion business in the United States, aborting more than 320,000 unborn babies every year.