Federal Appeals Court Rules Louisiana Can’t Block Planned Parenthood From Medicaid Program

PP Credit Charlotte Cooper-compressed
Photo Credit: Charlotte Cooper

NEW ORLEANS, La. — A federal appeals panel, all comprised of Republican-nominated judges, has ruled that officials in Louisiana can’t block the abortion giant Planned Parenthood from participating in the state’s Medicaid program because it denies women “free choice” of healthcare providers.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court injunction on Wednesday, stating that there was no good reason to terminate Planned Parenthood’s inclusion in the program.

It noted that then-Gov. Bobby Jindal had revoked the funding “because Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life,” but said that under the law, a “state may not exclude a provider simply based on the scope of services it provides.”

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) and three anonymous clients had sued the Lousiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH) last year after it sent notice to the abortion giant affiliate that it would no longer be included in Louisiana’s Medicaid program.

They asserted the move was politically motivated as Jindal made his decision in light of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, and contended that it took away their freedom to choose providers.

U.S. District Judge John deGravelles, nominated to the bench by Barack Obama, placed a temporary injunction against the revocation, stating that it could result in the closure of Planned Parenthood’s Baton Rouge location.

“The uncontroverted evidence in the record is that [Baton Rouge Health Center] relies to a significant degree on Medicaid reimbursements,” he wrote. “The court finds that if the agreements are terminated, this facility would suffer significant financial loss and might have no choice but to close.”

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The state appealed the ruling, and on Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction.

“Because LDHH’s termination of PPGC’s provider agreements likely violates federal law, there is no legitimate public interest in allowing LDHH to complete its planned terminations of PPGC’s provider agreements under these immediate facts,” Judge Jacques Wiener, nominated to the bench by then-President George H.W. Bush, wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.

Judge Priscilla Owen and Edward Prado, both nominated by then-President George W. Bush, concurred in the decision, which called Planned Parenthood “a much needed provider.”

“[T]he public interest weighs in favor of preliminarily enforcing the Individual Plaintiffs’ rights and allowing some of the state’s neediest individuals to continue receiving medical care from a much needed provider,” the opinion read.

“This victory is critically important for thousands of Louisianans across our state — people who deserve to have their health come before political agendas,” Raegan Carter, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, remarked in a press release about the decision.

“As a Louisianan and a woman of color, this is very personal. People of color in our community already face too many systemic barriers to care—and blocking care at Planned Parenthood would make it even worse,” she said.

Attorney General Jeff Landry is reviewing the appeals court decision.

“Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives,” wrote Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger, a eugenics advocate, in her 1922 book “Woman and the New Race.”

“So, in compliance with nature’s working plan, we must permit womanhood its full development before we can expect of it efficient motherhood. If we are to make racial progress, this development of womanhood must precede motherhood in every individual woman,” she wrote. “Then and then only can the mother cease to be an incubator and be a mother indeed. Then only can she transmit to her sons and daughters the qualities which make strong individuals and, collectively, a strong race.”

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