Jindal Administration’s Attack on Planned Parenthood Funds Blocked

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Jindal Administration’s Attack on Planned Parenthood Funds Blocked

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Monday's order is the latest federal court ruling pushing back against GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood facilities in the wake of this summer's release of heavily edited videos alleging Planned Parenthood violated federal law by selling fetal tissue.

See more of our coverage on the effects of the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

A federal district court judge on Monday temporarily blocked efforts by Louisiana anti-choice lawmakers to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood health-care facilities.

U.S. District Judge John deGravelles ruled Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal must keep funds going to the health-care provider for at least two weeks while a lawsuit challenging the GOP’s defunding efforts proceeds. The order is the latest setback for Jindal, a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, who is running in part based on his record of attacking reproductive health-care access in the state.

The ruling came in an amended lawsuit filed by attorneys on behalf of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) challenging efforts by Jindal’s administration to prevent low-income patients from accessing Planned Parenthood services via Medicaid.

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On August 3, Kathy Kliebert, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) notified PPGC that the state government was terminating its Medicaid provider agreements, effective 30 days after the date of the notice, according to the complaint. This termination was done without the department giving any warning or expressing any previous concerns about PPGC’s participation in the Medicaid program, according to the plaintiffs.

While the notice gave no reason for the termination, the complaint notes that Jindal referred in a press release to heavily edited and misleading videos released by an anti-choice front group with regard to Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice in other states. Jindal’s press release stated that he terminated the agreements because “Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life.”

PPGC does not provide abortion care in Louisiana.

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 shortage of primary care, dental care, or mental health-care providers.

If allowed to stand, the Jindal administration’s action would harm more than 5,200 low-income women and men who rely on PPGC for preventive health care through Medicaid, according to attorneys for PPGC.

“This ruling is a victory for the more than 5,200 women and men in Louisiana who rely on Planned Parenthood for care through Medicaid,” Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana state director of PPGC, said in a statement following the order. “It is shameful that Governor Jindal is trying to score political points by blocking women’s access to critical health care.”

Jindal administration attorneys dismissed widespread concerns about low-income Planned Parenthood patients, reportedly stating at a Friday hearing: “There simply is no compelling reason for the court to weigh in at this point.”

Louisiana is not alone in its efforts to cut Planned Parenthood health centers from Medicaid funding. Republican legislators in Arkansas, Alabama, and Utah are embroiled in legal challenges to similar efforts, while on Monday officials in Texas announced their plans to try and strip the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates of Medicaid funding.