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Planned Parenthood of Indiana, Inc. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health

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The fight to defund Planned Parenthood has seen some success at the state level, but the abortion provider is doing everything in its power to protect its government funding. The ACLJ is preparing to file an amicus brief supporting an Indiana law defunding the abortion industry, arguing that Indiana has a legal right to determine how the Medicaid dollars entrusted to them for administering are distributed.

On May 10, 2011, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed House Enrolled Act 1210 into law. The new law provides, in pertinent part: “An agency of the state may not: (1) enter into a contract with; or (2) make a grant to; any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed that involves the expenditure of state funds or federal funds administered by the state.”

As states are tasked with distributing federal Medicaid dollars, this law effectively cuts off Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding in Indiana due to their huge abortion business. As a result, Planned Parenthood in Indiana would lose between $2 and $3 million a year that it receives from Indiana through Medicaid. Under this law, Indiana would still distribute all Medicaid funds for Medicaid-related services, just not to abortion providers.

Planned Parenthood, along with the ACLU, immediately filed suit. The suit, backed by the Obama Administration, claims that Indiana cannot place restrictions on Medicaid dollars, that the state law is preempted by federal law, and that it is unconstitutional to force Planned Parenthood to choose between performing abortions or receiving Medicaid dollars for other non-abortion related services.

Indiana’s Attorney General argues that this law is a legitimate mechanism for the state to fulfill its duty to distribute Medicaid dollars in a way that ensures such monies are not used for abortions. Indiana is responsible to allocate Medicaid reimbursements. See 405 Ind. Admin. Code 1-1-3. Moreover, under Indiana law, Medicaid dollars may not be used for abortions. See Ind. Code § 16-34-1-2. Indiana argues that abortion providers that receive Medicaid dollars do not have a way to ensure that income received via Medicaid is never used for abortion services. In fact, the Attorney General argues that there is evidence that Planned Parenthood co-mingles these funds, thus using Medicaid dollars to perform abortions. Indiana further argues that there is no federal law preempting Indiana’s determination of who is eligible to receive the Medicaid funds. See Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Tex. v. Sanchez, 403 F.3d 324, 336-37 (2003) (“We start with ‘a presumption that the state statute is valid, and ask whether petitioner has shouldered the burden of overcoming that presumption.’” (quoting Pharmaceutical Research and Mfrs. of America v. Walsh, 538 U.S. 644, 661-62 (2003)).

A U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Indiana denied Planned Parenthood’s motion for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented the law from going into effect. The case is set for a hearing on Planned Parenthood’s motion for preliminary injunction on June 6, 2011.

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