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Arguments Heard in Planned Parenthood of Indiana Funding Appeal

Arguments have been made in the case of an Indiana law that blocked public funding for abortion providers.

Public funds cannot currently pay for abortions, but the law is based on the idea that giving any Medicare or Medicaid dollars to Planned Parenthood for other medical procedures helps to subsidize abortion.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU challenged the law, saying the state cannot limit patients’ choice, and the courts have thus far sided with them. The state argues that not only is the legislation legal, but that any challenges to it should be secondary to a federal dispute.

The federal government has rejected Indiana’s attempts to bring Medicare and Medicaid regulations in line with the new law. The federal government has also threatened to strip Indiana of all of its Medicaid funding if the law remains in place. An appeal to that matter will be heard in December.

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

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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Local News Politics

Planned Parenthood Of Indiana Gets State Grant

From the Associated Press:

Indiana officials are reversing course and giving Planned Parenthood of Indiana $6,000 in neighborhood assistance grants.

The organization’s president and CEO Betty Cockrum says the grants should help the group leverage $12,000 in donations.

The money comes from the Indiana Housing Community and Development Authority. The agency said in June it would not give Planned Parenthood any grants because of a new state law that blocks funds to the organization because it provides abortions. But it relented last week following a federal judge’s decision in late June to temporarily block the new law.

Cockrum says the money will help Planned Parenthood provide preventive health care to low-income men and women in Marion County.

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Indiana Attorney General Appealing Latest Ruling in Planned Parenthood Case

Officials with Planned Parenthood of Indiana say they are not surprised that the state attorney general is appealing a recent court ruling in favor of the group.

After a law blocking state funding from any organization that provides abortions took effect, Planned Parenthood filed suit. Late last week, a judge issued a temporary block on the law until the case is settled.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office has appealed the ruling. The state is also appealing a federal decision that blocked Indiana’s attempt to change Medicaid rules and bring them in line with the new law. The cases will likely both be heard by the appeals court. A loss to Planned Parenthood would mean the law could not be enforced. A loss to the federal government would mean the state’s roughly $4 billion Medicaid allotment would be cut off.

The federal government and Planned Parenthood both argue that the state government cannot restrict Medicaid patients’ access to care. Zoeller’s office contends that the law–as it was passed by the state legislature–is sound. Further, the office contends that the federal dispute should take priority over Planned Parenthood’s case.

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Injunction Granted in Indiana Planned Parenthood Case

A federal judge in Indiana has stopped the enforcement of a state law that strips Planned Parenthood–and any other organizations that provide abortions–of public funds.

The decision is in line with a recent opinion from the U.S. Justice Department, which contends that states cannot restrict Medicaid patients’ access to care. But while the law will be blocked, the judge agreed that further review is in order. Friday’s decision only means the law will not be enforced until a ruling is made in a suit brought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The law took effect in May, but, through donations, Planned Parenthood of Indiana was able to continue providing most medical services to its 9,300 Medicaid patients. Last Monday, the donations ran out and the organization stopped serving patients who couldn’t pay out of pocket or through private insurance plans. Further, two specialists in Muncie were laid off.

Planned Parenthood officials celebrated the decision. The organization issued a statement saying the two specialists can return to work until a final ruling in the case is made.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also sided with Planned Parenthood, and the state is appealing a rejection of its attempt to bring Medicaid regulations for Indiana in line with the law.

“We will thoroughly review the ruling but it is likely that the State of Indiana will seek an interlocutory appeal to the U.S. 7th Circuit, the same court that would ultimately review the administrative appeal of Indiana’s Medicaid plan in the dispute between the State of Indiana and the federal government,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s spokesman Bryan Corbin in a statement.

Zoeller’s office argues that the dispute between Indiana and the federal government should take precedent over any civil actions against the new law.

If Indiana loses its appeal, the state could lose $4 billion in Medicaid funding.

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Planned Parenthood Donations Run Out, Cuts Possible

The donations that have made Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s services available to Medicaid patients will dry up today.

The donations began pouring into the organization’s offices in early May, after Governor Mitch Daniels signed a law stripping Planned Parenthood of public funding. The money provided most services for the organization’s 9,300 Medicaid patients.

President Betty Cockrum says the flow of donations diminished quickly and will not last any longer.

Planned Parenthood is challenging the law in court. The U.S. Justice Department has sided with the group, saying the state cannot limit Medicaid patients’ options for care and threatening that Indiana could lose all of its Medicaid funding if the law stands. Given that, Cockrum says she’s hoping the case will be decided sometime today .

“There is certainly sufficient argument for a decision but I think it’s also such a critically important and long-term and far-reaching decision, there’s every chance it will be after Monday,” she says.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says his office is dedicated to defending the statute.

Unless a ruling is made before the donations run out, Planned Parenthood will have to consider making cuts, including limiting all services or furloughing employees.

“We also have to be mindful not to do anything that’s too drastic because it’s a very short window. Assuming, again, that there is a ruling no later than June 30th,” says Cockrum.

Elsewhere, organizations facing public funding cuts have essentially split into one branch that handles women’s health and another that handles abortions, but receives no public money. Planned Parenthood of Indiana president Betty Cockrum rejects that proposal.

“There’s a very legitimate concern about the shelf life of any kind of restructuring. Just looking at language that was introduced in the Minnesota legislature this year that would have stripped funds from any organization that even made a referral for an abortion,” she says.

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Zoeller Says Federal Challenge Should Take Precedent Over Planned Parenthood Case

The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and the Indiana Attorney General were in court today to debate the legality of a state statute that blocks public funding to Planned Parenthood.

The law blocks any of Indiana’s Medicaid dollars from going to the organization or any other that provides abortions, though federal funding already cannot be used for abortions.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU argue that the state cannot restrict patients’ healthcare options healthcare. Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office argues that the state can, if the General Assembly approves it. Further, Zoeller’s office says Planned Parenthood doesn’t have the authority to challenge the law in court.

A ruling on the case is expected by July 1.

Zoeller also argued that court is the wrong venue for debate on the law. The federal government has threatened to pull the $4 billion in Medicaid funding Indiana receives if the law is enforced. The state is appealing the decision, and Zoeller says that is the proper process to determine the law’s validity.

Planned Parenthood is not currently receiving Medicaid funding, but through donations, the organization will continue seeing current patients through June 20th.

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Local News Politics

Donations to Fund Indiana Planned Parenthood for Another Week

Planned Parenthood of Indiana will use donated funds to extend care to patients for another week.

The organization lost much of its money through an anti-abortion law recently signed by Governor Mitch Daniels. But Planned Parenthood has received donations from across the country, and will use the money to continue operations until May 21.

Organization officials say they serve about 9,300 Medicaid patients at 28 clinics in the Hoosier state. It will not accept new Medicaid patients during the court battle over the new law and some services will not be performed.

A federal judge has already refused to issue a restraining order on the law.

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Judge Rejects Attempt to Block Indiana Abortion Law

A federal judge has refused to block a new Indiana law that cuts off funding for Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana brought the request to court, but the judge denied the organization’s request for a temporary restraining order.

Planned Parenthood argues that the law would jeopardize healthcare for thousands of women, and they hope to keep their funds secure while the law is being challenged. The law also places tighter restrictions on abortions.

In other states, pro-choice organizations have refrained from challenging similar laws, largely out of concern that a loss in court would set new legal precedents against abortion.

Additional information from the Associated Press

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Update With Audio: Moffett Says Abortion is Murder

Losing a key pro-life endorsement to state Senate President David Williams, Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett flexed his socially conservative views in a recent questionnaire sent out by the Associated Press.

The Louisville businessman, who is backed by the Tea Party, didn’t pull any punches on the issues and equated abortion with murder.

From the Daily Journal:

Moffett, better known for his fiscal conservatism, shows the colors of a social conservative on the abortion issue.

“Human life begins at conception and a fetus is as human as a toddler,” Moffett said, responding to the AP questionnaire. “No one would seek a special exemption to murder a toddler, so there should be no special exemptions for murdering a human fetus.”

We’ve asked the Moffett campaign for further comment.

UPDATE with audio: