Breaking: SCOTUS declines to hear defense of Indiana’s anti-Planned Parenthood law

The Indiana government really, really wants to defund Planned Parenthood, but the U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear its appeal of a lower court’s ruling that the state really, really can’t do that. The LA Times reports:

Without comment, the justices turned away Indiana’s defense of a 2011 law that would ban all Medicaid funds to an organization such as Planned Parenthood whose work includes performing abortions.

The high court let stand decisions by a federal judge in Indiana and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago that blocked the measure from taking effect. 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,” Judge Diane Sykes said last year for the 7th Circuit.

The Obama administration had joined the case on the side of Planned Parenthood and argued that the Medicaid law gives eligible low-income patients a right to obtain healthcare from any qualified provider. This is known as the free-choice-of-provider rule.

The Supreme Court building in D.C.

The Supreme Court building in D.C.

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, has applauded the decision, noting its importance not only for the non-profit but for the millions who rely on it for medical care. As obviously unconstitutional as the new Indiana law seems, though, it’s worth remembering the state’s case relies on long-standing legal restrictions.

The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding for abortion, and though Planned Parenthood is also prevented from using Indiana’s money by a similar state-level law, some argue government support for the non-profit is equivalent to indirectly subsidizing abortions. We can argue whether or not that’s true, but a more just approach would be to reject Hyde and its state equivalents in their entirety: Planned Parenthood and its partners should retain their funding for services like pap smears and breast cancer screenings and also received federal and state funding for abortion provision. To ensure the long-term sustainability of reproductive health organizations, and to guarantee all people across the country access to important reproductive health services, including abortion, regardless of their ability to pay, we need to overturn Hyde.

Washington, DC

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at Feministing.com. During her four years at the site, she wrote about gender violence, reproductive justice, and education equity and ran the site's book review column. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center and also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at Feministing.com.

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