News Law and Policy

Court: Louisiana Can’t Cut Planned Parenthood Funding

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A federal court ruled Thursday that state Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates must continue despite efforts by the Jindal administration to block the funds.

A federal judge Thursday ordered Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) administration to stop its attempts to strip Medicaid payments from Planned Parenthood reproductive health-care clinics in Louisiana.

Jindal, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, was among the first conservative governors to try and cut funding to the reproductive health-care provider following the release of a series of heavily edited videos attempting to smear Planned Parenthood for purportedly unlawfully selling fetal tissue.

Kathy Kliebert, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) in August notified Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) that DHH was terminating its Medicaid provider agreements, effective 30 days after the date of the notice.

Planned Parenthood has two health centers in Louisiana, located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Both provide care in health professional shortage areas, areas designated by the federal government as having a dearth of primary care, dental care, or mental health-care providers. While the notice gave no reason for the termination, Jindal referred to heavily edited and discredited videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice front group that has worked alongside GOP lawmakers to attack funding for Planned Parenthood.

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Jindal called for the agreements to be terminated because “Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life,” according to court documents.

PPGC does not provide abortion care in Louisiana.

U.S. District Judge John deGravelles temporarily blocked Jindal’s efforts this month to cancel the agreements, but on Thursday the court issued a preliminary injunction ordering Louisiana to keep PPGC’s funding intact while the lawsuit proceeds.

Thursday’s ruling is the second loss in two days for Republican governors hoping to cut family planning services in their states. A federal judge Wednesday blocked similar efforts in Alabama to kick Planned Parenthood affiliates out of its state Medicaid program. Federal courts have blocked efforts in Arkansas and Utah.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration recently notified lawmakers in Texas that efforts there to cut Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood likely violated federal law.

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