Judge Mulls Indiana Law Defunding Planned Parenthood

A federal judge indicated Monday that she will decide by July 1 whether Indiana can implement a law that cuts off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt heard over 90 minutes of arguments Monday on a Planned Parenthood request for an injunction to block Indiana's new abortion law.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana, represented by American Civil Liberties Union, argued that if the state continues to withhold funds then several clinics will run out of money and close and 9,300 Medicaid patients will be denied services.

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher said the case doesn't belong in court and that the state can decide which health care providers are qualified for federal funding through Medicaid.

Pratt has given each side 10 days to submit follow-up arguments in the case. Planned Parenthood must show that the lawsuit will likely be ruled in its favor for a permanent injunction to be granted.

The lawsuit comes after the White House and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urged Indiana to back off the new abortion law last week, declaring it illegal.

Medicaid Administrator Donald M. Berwick sent a warning letter to Indiana's Medicaid director, indicating that Indiana’s law will improperly bar Medicaid beneficiaries to receive from any qualified provider. Berwick is giving the state 60 days to appeal the decision. The letter does not state it explicitly but Indiana could lose $4 million in federal Medicaid money if it does not comply.

Indiana is the first state in the nation to bar federal funding through Medicaid to health care providers that provide abortions.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the abortion legislation into law on May 10. The law also bans abortions for women over 20 weeks pregnant unless there is a substantial threat the woman's life or health.

The state argues that although tax dollars are not directly funding abortions at Planned Parenthood, the funds are subsidizing the procedure by paying to keep the lights on at the clinics.

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