Another GOP Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood Could Be Blocked

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Another GOP Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood Could Be Blocked

Teddy Wilson

A law supported by Mississippi's Republican legislators would prohibit the Division of Medicaid from reimbursing any entity that provides abortion care, maintains a facility where abortion services are performed, or is affiliated with an entity that provides abortion care.

Planned Parenthood asked a federal judge Monday for a summary judgement to overturn a GOP-backed Mississippi law that prohibits organizations that provide abortion services from receiving state Medicaid funding, the Associated Press reported.

SB 2238, sponsored by state Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall), would prohibit the Division of Medicaid from reimbursing any entity that provides abortion care, maintains or operates a facility where abortion services are performed, or is affiliated with an entity that provides abortion care.

The bill was passed in April by wide margins in the Republican-dominated Mississippi legislature, and signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant (R) in May.

Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said in a statement that the legislation was a “purely political move” that restricts access to reproductive health care for people with low incomes. 

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Planned Parenthood is asking the court to rule quickly on the law, citing a Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld an injunction against a similar law in Louisiana.

The Fifth Circuit rejected Louisiana’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, and in a ruling on September 14 upheld a preliminary injunction by a lower court.

Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) cited anti-choice activists’ widely discredited smear videos as the basis for removing Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program. Republican governors in other states have attempted to do the same.

The Obama administration last year warned states that defunding Planned Parenthood is likely illegal.

Melissa Cohen, attorney for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, argued in a supplemental memorandum filed Monday that the Louisiana case “controls this court’s decision on the merits of this case.”

The Fifth Circuit ruled in the Louisiana case that people have the “right to demand care from a qualified provider” and that the state can’t deny a person’s choice of providers based on “reasons unrelated to that provider’s qualifications.”