News and Stories: Judge Rules in Planned Parenthood's Favor on Defunding
Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) is relieved that U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has granted its motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the enforcement of the new state law that strips Medicaid funding from PPIN. The decision means that PPIN can once again be reimbursed for the preventive health care it provides its 9,300 Medicaid patients.
The Honorable Tanya Walton Pratt agreed with PPIN's claims that the new law violates federal law and feels that even though administrative review is available, the federal government should be given deference. "To use a sports metaphor, just because the final buzzer has not yet sounded does not mean the Court must avert its eyes from the scoreboard."
The judge ruled the Medicaid defunding portion of the law should not be enforced during this interim period before a permanent injunction hearing takes place. "Further, in light of recent events, the public interest also tilts in favor of granting an injunction. The federal government has threatened partial or total withholding of federal Medicaid dollars to the State of Indiana, which could total well over $5 billion dollars annually and affect nearly 1 million Hoosiers. Thus, denying the injunction could pit the federal government against the State of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse. And if dogma trumps pragmatism and neither side budges, Indiana's most vulnerable citizens could end up paying the price as the collateral damage of a partisan battle. With this backdrop in mind, along with the reasons discussed above, the Court believes the most prudent course of action is to enjoin the defunding provision while the judicial process runs its course."
"This decision will have immediate, positive consequences for our patients and our organization, the state's largest reproductive health care provider," said PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum. "This ruling means we can resume providing Pap tests, breast exams, STD testing and treatment and birth control to both existing and new Medicaid patients. It also means we can call our two Disease Intervention Specialists who were laid off this week back to work while the permanent injunction we are seeking is pending."
PPIN is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU of Indiana) and the case is being led by Legal Director Ken Falk. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is also providing legal assistance.
"This is a positive step in what likely will be a long legal battle," Falk said. "We are encouraged by the judge's ruling, but know our work is not yet done."
PPIN also contended that thanks to HEA 1210, its health care professionals would be forced to make statements to patients that are not medically and scientifically based, also in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Pratt agreed and ruled that portions of the law requiring medical professionals to say that a fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks post-fertilization will not go into effect July 1. However, a portion requiring that medical professionals tell a woman that human physical life begins at conception must be implemented.