Planned Parenthood is used to winning court cases. They are well-funded and have an army of lawyers to protect the abortion giant. But today, they lost a big one. And pro-lifers could not be happier.
Judges have been helping Planned Parenthood continue to receive taxpayer funds for years. But last week a federal appeals court ruled that Arkansas is free to remove them from its network of Medicaid-approved medical providers.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that people on Medicaid must receive care. But those recipients are not entitled to make demands of states on where they get care. So that means Planned Parenthood customers have no right to tell a state they must be included in the official list of approved clinics:
“The plaintiffs are asserting a right — the absolute right to a particular provider of their choosing — that [the law] does not grant them,” Judge Steven Colloton wrote in the majority opinion.
Planned Parenthood can still protest its removal through the regular administrative process, but its customers can’t force it to be added back into the mix of medical services providers, the court said in the 2-1 ruling.
That’s at odds with rulings in a number of other appeals courts, which said the Medicaid Act prohibits states from cutting out providers without giving sufficient cause.
Many states have pushed to punish Planned Parenthood over the years. This has gone into hyper drive after a series of undercover videos busted Planned Parenthood executives bargaining to illegally selling fetal tissue. Texas and Louisiana tried to cut off funding but their efforts were struck down in court. But this time, the state prevailed. And Planned Parenthood is hopping mad:
Planned Parenthood said the 8th Circuit’s ruling on Arkansas’s policy was an “extreme departure” from other court rulings and the organization is evaluating all options to make sure its patients can continue to access its services.
“To date, seven other states (Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) have sought to bar Planned Parenthood from Medicaid and all have been blocked by federal courts,” the clinic network said in a statement.
Louisiana, part of the 5th Circuit, has asked the entire appeals court to rehear its loss. Texas is also appealing.
Like Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana barred Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding after the videos from the Center of Medical Progress went viral.
“It is hard to say whether this new circuit split will result in a successful petition for certiorari. The court does not often take reproductive rights-related or Medicaid-related cases, but with a new justice on the bench renewed interest may exist,” said Nicole Huberfeld, a law professor at Boston University.
With such differences in court outcomes across the country it may be inevitable that this issue reaches the Supreme Court. If it does, there is no telling how it will turn out. The legal complexities have even the most celebrate scholars completely divided. Medicaid rules and regulations are dense and open for interpretation. It may need a ruling from the Supreme Court just to clarify where things stand.
But today, this is a big win for pro-lifers.