Abortion activists are celebrating and pro-lifers are disappointed after the U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear a case involving state efforts to defund the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
The name Planned Parenthood and the abortion issue popped out in the cases, but some conservative reporters cautioned that people should understand all the facts before jumping to conclusions about the justices’ future rulings on abortion.
On Monday, six of the nine justices refused to take the cases out of Kansas and Louisiana where two lower courts split on Planned Parenthood funding issues.
The situations involved the states’ decisions to revoke taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood after videos exposed the abortion giant allegedly selling the body parts of aborted babies. Planned Parenthood sued the states, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said Kansas could not defund Planned Parenthood, while the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said Arkansas could.
But the actual legal issue of both cases did not strictly have to do with taxpayer funding of abortions or Planned Parenthood, or the abortion issue at all.
Instead, the justices were asked to consider “whether Medicaid recipients have standing to challenge states’ determination of which groups qualify as Medicaid providers,” according to the National Review.
Nonetheless, the CNN article claimed that “the case concerned whether [states] can block Medicaid funds from offices that provide such women with annual health screens, contraceptive coverage and cancer screening.” It didn’t. It concerned whether individuals have the standing to bring their own suit against a state’s determination of which providers qualify under Medicaid.
It’s almost as if journalists are willing to abandon the facts in order to convince readers that Planned Parenthood is under unjust attack — and that the Supreme Court has sided with the abortion corporation.
Under the current system, Medicaid is administered by the states, using substantial funds from and plans approved by the federal government. The federal law that sets the standards for those plans stipulates in part that Medicaid recipients can obtain “assistance from any institution, agency, community pharmacy, or person, qualified to perform the service or services required… who undertakes to provide him such services.”
In 2015, amid the controversy surrounding the Center for Medical Progress’s investigation into the sale of fetal body parts by Planned Parenthood, the state of Louisiana investigated Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast, the state-level PP affiliate, and then terminated its Medicaid provider status. In response, PPGC sued in federal court, alleging that Louisiana had deprived three anonymous co-plaintiffs of their federal statutory right to “to choose to receive their medical care from any qualified and willing provider.”
The ruling Monday was a big disappointment to pro-life advocates, who have hoped a conservative-majority court would rule in their favor in cases like these. Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, also wrote a harsh dissent that criticized his fellow justices for not doing their job because of Planned Parenthood’s connection to the case.
“What explains the court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood,’” Thomas wrote in his dissenting opinion.
It is worrying. Still, the decision may not be the harbinger about future abortion cases that some are making it out to be.
Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, responded with disappointment but not without hope for the future. He noted that Louisiana 2016 Act 304, initiated by Gov. John Bel Edwards, is still in place. The act prevents tax dollars from going to any “entity or organization that performs abortions, or that contracts with an entity or organization that performs abortions, in this state.”
“It was time for the Supreme Court to provide guidance to the states. Unfortunately, it declined, which will only lead to further confusion in years to come,” Clapper said.
“We expect future legal cases on the important question of taxpayer funds lining the pockets of the abortion industry. We look forward to the Supreme Court deciding that it is the right of the state to put a firewall between tax dollars and the business of abortion,” he concluded.