Federal appeals court blocks Indiana abortion funding bill

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] on Tuesday upheld [opinion, PDF] an injunction [JURIST report] on an Indiana law [text] that would block Medicaid funding for abortion providers. The court found that the law, which would block federal and state funding to all "entities which perform abortions," violated the Medicaid statute [text] because it unjustifiably limited patient choice of health care providers. Even though federal and state funding may not be used for abortions after the Hyde Amendment [backgrounder, PDF], Indiana lawmakers sought to remove all support to entities that provide abortions regardless of the source of the funding. Planned Parenthood of Indiana [advocacy website] argued that not only did the bill violate the statute but that it was also unconstitutional. While the court rejected the constitutional claim, it held that:

Although Indiana has broad authority to exclude unqualified providers from its Medicaid program, the State does not have plenary authority to exclude a class of providers for any reason—more particularly, for a reason unrelated to provider qualifications. ... The defunding law excludes Planned Parenthood from Medicaid for a reason unrelated to its fitness to provide medical services, violating its patients' statutory right to obtain medical care from the qualified provider of their choice.
The injunction allows Planned Parenthood to continue serving its Medicaid patients pending a reversal on appeal. The ruling was welcomed by the American Civil Liberties Union, while Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said his office is reviewing the opinion [press releases] to determine how to proceed.

Reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] remain a controversial issue across the US, with similar law being passed in other states. Last week a federal judge blocked a similar bill [JURIST report] that would have defunded Planned Parenthood in Arizona. Planned Parenthood in Texas asked a federal district court last month to reconsider its August ruling that upheld a Texas defunding statute [JURIST reports]. In July, the Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy website] released a report detailing all of the abortion laws passed in 2012.

 

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