The U.S. Supreme Court today handed victories to Planned Parenthood in two states — Louisiana and Kansas — that tried to strip the organization of Medicaid funding for medical services (not abortion).
The court declined in a 6-3 decision to hear appeals from those states of rulings against the defunding in those two states. Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch wanted to hear the case.
Similar defunding efforts have been blocked in Arizona and Indiana and are being contested in Ohio and Texas. Only in Arkansas has a federal court allowed the state to deny funds.
The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals — the most conservative in the country — reversed Judge Kristine Baker’s finding that the Arkansas law to defund Planned Parenthood illegally stopped patients from choosing their health service provider. That ruling now stands in conflict with rulings in multiple circuits. Does it provide a path to Supreme Court resolution of the issue?
UPDATE: The cases refused today by the Supreme Court turned on the issue decided differently by the 8th Circuit, denial of medical services to a provider of a patient’s choice. But the Arkansas case still pends in Baker’s court on the broader constitutional question. That case has been on hold pending this decision. Here’s more on the ins and outs. What remains to be seen is whether Supreme Court review will be sought on the 8th Circuit’s outlying decision. An attorney for Planned Parenthood says that the portion of the challenge over a private right to Medicaid services could still be appealed after a trial on the constitutional issue.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, in backing the defunding of medical services for poor women (about $50,000 worth a year) cited a false reason — unethical actions by Planned Parenthood in providing fetal material for medical research. The allegations arose from inaccurate reporting about actions in other states, not Arkansas. Putting Planned Parenthood out of business is the aim of this and multiple other laws passed by the Arkansas legislature.