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Planned Parenthood case heats up in Indiana as State considers possible penalties

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June 15, 2011

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana: All eyes are on Indiana, as the state becomes the first in the nation to potentially remove federal Medicaid dollars from reaching Planned Parenthood.

House Bill 1210 was signed into law by Governor Mitch Daniels on May 10, 2011. Since becoming law, it has drawn national attention and is currently facing possible repeal in federal court.

The dangers lie in the questions of legality surrounding the law. HB 1210 bars Planned Parenthood offices in the state from receiving federal money because they provide abortions. More specifically, the law prohibits state agencies from forming contracts with or making grants to any organizations that perform abortions or maintain abortion facilities, also canceling funding for current contracts and grants to entities performing abortions or maintaining abortion facilites.[1] Medicaid Administrator Donald Berwick declared the law illegal, and stated in a letter to Indiana that "Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider's scope of practice."[2] President Obama has also stepped in, joining with Berwick in declaring the law illegal. The President warned Indiana, and other similarly minded states that doing so may put all state Medicaid funds in jeopardy,[3] a loss of nearly $4 billion.[2] Indiana had 60 days from June 1 to appeal the decision.[4]

Indiana has opposed the injunctions by Berwick and the President, due to the possibility that the program may provide indirect funding by subsidizing some of Planned Parenthood's overhead costs.[4]

Since it was instated, HB1210 has spurred over $100,000 in donations to Planned Parenthood. However, once the money runs out, and if Judge Tanya Walton Pratt denies the injunction by Berwick, speculation is Planned Parenthood will close seven of its 28 facilities around the state, resulting in around 24 layoffs.[4]

Judge Pratt, who was recently appointed by the Obama Administration in January, is presiding over the case and is expected to have a ruling by July 1. Briefs have been submitted by both sides, and were debated during oral arguments on June 6. Attorney Ken Falk, legal director for the Indiana ACLU was chosen to represent Planned Parenthood, and Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher represents the defense.[4]

Planned parenthood supporters

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