- Planned Parenthood has filed a second lawsuit in an escalating political and legal conflict against states seeking to strip the funding the organization receives through Medicaid programs.
- The group is now suing Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R), who is attempting to cut out the state's Medicaid funding for the organization in the wake of a political uproar over a series of videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood using controversial methods to extract fetal tissue for medical research. The videos were recorded and released by undercover anti-abortion activists.
- Planned Parenthood has already filed suit against Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) of Louisiana.
It's starting to become clear that court rulings will be necessary to settle this conflict as a growing number of states pursue the "defund" option.
These actions have already spurred a response from the federal government, which is warning states that blocking these Medicaid funds may run afoul of federal law. The Department of Health and Human Services has stressed that states are not allowed to dissolve Medicaid arrangements with a provider based on the medical services it provides, and that such action is only admissible in response to fraud or criminal acts. Activists have also highlighted the negative effect that denying the organization funding would have on women's healthcare services.
If these states are found to be violating federal Medicaid law, they could lose funding for the program.
"Governor Bentley is trying to dictate where a woman can go for contraception and other preventive care if she’s enrolled in Medicaid," said Staci Fox, who leads Planned Parenthood Southeast, in a statement to The Hill. "Meanwhile, Alabama is dealing with some of the nation’s worst health outcomes, and restricting access to providers will do nothing to help the urgent problems we face."
The burgeoning controversy isn't just limited to Alabama and Louisiana. New Hampshire lawmakers are pursuing similar action, and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin may also be following suit.