Indiana AG Appeals Planned Parenthood Ruling, Organization Looks to Kansas Case for Encouragement

by Gabe Bullard on August 2, 2011

The Indiana Attorney General’s office has filed its brief in the defense of a state law that defunds Planned Parenthood.

The law passed the General Assembly this year and blocks Medicaid funding from any organization that provides abortions. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and the American Civil Liberties Union have challenged the law, and won a temporary injunction in June.

Further, the federal government has rejected Indiana’s attempt to move state Medicaid rules in line with the law. In the brief, Attorney General Greg Zoeller argues that the state’s feud with the federal government should take precedent over any court challenges.

“This dispute belongs between the state and the federal government that administers and funds the Medicaid program, not between a private contractor and the state,” said Zoeller in a statement. “The proper place to argue this dispute is the federal government’s own administrative hearing process, established for exactly this purpose. We hope the 7th Circuit will agree, reverse the U.S. District Court’s decision and allow the administrative review to run its course.”

But Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum says that’s too abstract.

“The one thing it overlooks is that the defunding in particular had a very significant and adverse effect on Planned Parenthood of Indiana and his argument entirely forecloses any action on our part to seek relief for that,” she says.

Before the injunction was issued, Planned Parenthood planned layoffs, furloughs and office closures to make up for loss of Medicaid funds. The organization serves about 9,300 Medicaid patients in Indiana.

The appeal takes the case to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. A Kansas judge recently ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor in a similar case.

“Same arguments, same response. There are nuances and differences and all that but it’s one more favorable review,” says Cockrum, adding that the Kansas ruling gives her confidence in another legal victory for her organization.

The appeal will be heard in the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

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