Federal Court Rules Louisiana Can't Defund Planned Parenthood

Women receiving Medicaid will continue to be able to obtain family planning and other health services from their trusted healthcare provider

New Orleans, LA (September 15, 2016) – Lift Louisiana applauds the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision this week that ensures low-income and poor women can continue to get Medicaid-funded healthcare services at Planned Parenthood facilities in the state.

The state moved last year, under the Jindal administration, to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion-related services. A lower court ruled against the state, blocking the state from enforcing its decision to remove the healthcare provider from the Medicaid program. The Fifth Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision because the Medicaid statutes guarantee that beneficiaries will be able to obtain medical care from the qualified and willing medical provider of their choice.  

“This effort by the state was politically motivated and defending it in court wasted taxpayer funds,” stated Michelle Erenberg, Executive Director of Lift Louisiana. “Thousands of women receive healthcare from Planned Parenthood in our state and barring Medicaid recipients from receiving care at those health centers would likely have caused more problems for women in our state who already have alarmingly poor health outcomes.”

Efforts to cut funding for Planned Parenthood are not unique to Louisiana. Similar efforts have been attempted, and halted, in other states.  Most recently, Congress failed to pass a bill to provide critical funding for combating the Zika virus, based on fights over Planned Parenthood. Advocates for women’s health are frustrated that abortion opponents are spending time and money on these efforts while the virus is spreading and Louisiana is a target.

Despite the recent blows to efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and to restrict access to abortion (see Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt), the Attorney General recently asked the Governor for $850,000 to defend seven abortion restrictions lawmakers passed this year which are now being challenged in a lawsuit. Governor Edwards’ administration is pushing back on this request, stating that taking funds from the Department of Health for this lawsuit would force cuts to health services.

“We agree with the Governor’s administration that state funds should be used to increase access to health care not to defend unconstitutional laws,” says Erenberg.

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