The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a brief order today refusing a rehearing of a three-judge panel’s decision and also refusing a request for the entire court to hear Planned Parenthood’s appeal of a decision upholding Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s order that Arkansas stop allowing Planned Parenthood to participate in the Medicaid program.

Two judges, Wollman and Kelly, would have granted an en banc hearing. The 8th Circuit, in shutting off Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood, departs from decisions entered in four other U.S. circuit courts on similar cases.


Federal District Judge Kristine Baker, citing precedent in other courts, had blocked the state from stopping funding. But a three-judge panel overturned Baker.

The decision affects some $50,000 worth of medical services annually — not abortions, but health screening and family planning and other medical services. Hutchinson ordered participation in the program stopped because of reports in other states — debunked in every investigation that has been mounted — in improprieties in some other Planned Parenthood clinics in providing fetal tissue for medical research. Patients in Arkansas said federal law required the state to allow them to use medical providers of their choice. The 8th Circuit, notoriously conservative and anti-abortion, said that right was “ambiguous,” even through four other circuit courts decided it differently.


An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the difference between circuit court rulings is now a possibility.

Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge have consistently misrepresented the facts of the case, claiming that misconduct led to the decision to deprive Arkansas women of their preferred medical provider. No misconduct was ever alleged by Arkansas Planned Parenthood affiliates and none has been proven anywhere else.


Planned Parenthood said in a prepared statement it was evaluationg options but would “keep fighting for our patients in Little Rock and Fayetteville to have access to critical services.”

Attorney General Rutledge was “pleased” and again repeated the grossly dishonest statement that Planned Parenthood “could not contest in federal court Arkansas’s determination that a medical provider has engaged in misconduct that merits disqualification from the Medicaid program.” It could and did and even the 8th Circuit didn’t say that. It just said it didn’t find an absolute right for a Medicaid recipient to choose their provider.  Her spokesman refused to respond to a question about Rutledge’s misleading characterization of facts of the case.