Planned Parenthood goes to court to fight funding cuts in Alabama

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Abbott wants harsher penalties in wake of Planned Parenthood videos.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. Planned Parenthood filed a complaint in Alabama federal on Friday seeking to stop the state from defunding its health clinics after the release of covertly recorded videos attacking the organization’s handling of aborted fetal tissue.White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday it would be “irrational” and “grossly irresponsible” to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding.

Atlanta-based Planned Parenthood Southeast fired back at critics Friday, filing a federal lawsuit in Alabama over efforts there to block patients receiving medical services paid for through the federal Medicaid program. The reproductive-health organization took similar legal action earlier this week in Louisiana, which also plans to terminate its contract with Planned Parenthood to provide medical services to low-income residents.

Greg Abbott is calling on the Legislature to approve several new abortion restrictions — even though Texas already has some of the nation’s toughest limits on the procedure. He spoke on the 2015 State of the State. (Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News) Citing the recent release of “gruesome videos” taken inside Planned Parenthood abortion clinics that were considering donating fetal tissue, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is making about Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s ability to sue in federal court is not likely to hold up, experts on Medicaid law said Friday (Aug. 28).

Greg Abbott (R) proposed eliminating Planned Parenthood as part of a host of other measures in response to recent undercover videos filmed at several of the group’s facilities. Earnest said that Planned Parenthood has apologized for some of what was depicted in the recent series of undercover videos, “which was appropriate,” he said. “It is not appropriate for Republicans to try to deprive hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans from receiving health care,” Earnest said. Robert Bentley over his move to end all state funding to the organization following videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue procurement.

Planned Parenthood, joined in the suit by the American Civil Liberties Union, said in court filings that Alabama’s Republican governor illegally terminated its contract to provide health services under Medicaid, a federal and state healthcare program for the poor. Administration lawyers who are defending Department of Health and Hospitals against a Planned Parenthood injunction are relying on a Supreme Court ruling decided in March, Armstrong v. Laws must be changed to (1) make it a felony under Texas law to perform a partial-birth abortion; and (2) make it illegal for abortion doctors to risk a woman’s health by altering the procedure to preserve fetal body parts. In September, the House and Senate will either vote on a budget for the next fiscal year or for a continuing resolution to keep the government temporarily funded. Improve and expand the availability of adoption services; and increase awareness about Texas’ already best-in-the-nation child-support enforcement program, so that young mothers considering how to deal with pregnancy know the father will be held accountable to support his family.

The groups said they plan to file a motion next week for a preliminary injunction against the state, to prevent it from cutting off Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood Southeast’s two health centers in Birmingham and Mobile. Governor Robert Bentley gave Planned Parenthood no explanation, and only 15 days notice, when he announced the termination earlier this month, the organization said. His announcement comes weeks after an anti-abortion group released an undercover video alleging fetal organ sales, which activists say was shot inside a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic. The footage shows Planned Parenthood executives casually discussing the methods — and costs — related to preserving fetal organs during an abortion.

A series of sting videos were released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress starting in July, purporting to show Planned Parenthood physicians selling fetal parts for profit. But three health care law experts said Friday that the high court’s decision doesn’t bar health care providers like Planned Parenthood from suing over being defunded. “Armstrong was all about providers challenging a rate-setting situation,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington. “Armstrong simply has no bearing on this situation. Republicans have seized on it as evidence that the women’s health organization sells organs, although the organization has said it only donates the tissue for medical research. The clinics, while known as abortion providers, also give patients access to contraception, screening for cervical and breast cancer, and testing for sexually transmitted infections. The governor cited now famous hidden-camera videos that accuse the organization of selling fetal organs for profit after abortions. “The deplorable practices at Planned Parenthood have been exposed to Americans, and I have decided to stop any association with the organization in Alabama,” Bentley said.

On Thursday it released an analysis questioning what it called deceptive edits, inaccurate transcripts and missing footage in the widely viewed videos, which have spurred investigations in the Republican-controlled U.S. As some conservatives in Washington seek to cut its federal funding, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas have targeted the Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding, covering preventive healthcare services such as birth control and cancer screenings. “The federal government and several courts have made clear that a state cannot kick Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program simply because Planned Parenthood provides abortion,” Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, said in a statement.

On that score, Louisiana is dead wrong,” Rosenbaum said. “Armstrong dealt with a lawsuit brought directly under the supremacy clause, which is state laws that conflict with federal laws are invalid.” But Planned Parenthood is not invoking the supremacy clause. Abbott, however, wants to “eliminate and criminalize any sale or transaction of fetal tissue by an abortion clinic for any purpose whatsoever,” according to his plan. Many of the other items mentioned in Abbott’s initiative already are prohibited, but the governor said it was clear that harsher penalties were needed.

The barbaric practice of harvesting and selling baby body parts must end.” Abbott spokesman John Wittman said Abbott was not calling for a special session to discuss the package, despite some pressure from anti-abortion groups. “We are in the beginning of the process of laying out solutions to address this issue,” Wittman said. “We’re going to wait until next session… (which) allows time for lawmakers to digest the information that comes out of these investigations and build consensus around these legislative goals.” That means Planned Parenthood would no longer be reimbursed for services to their patients who are on Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income and disabled people.

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