LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A federal judge nominated to the bench by Barack Obama has temporarily banned officials in Arkansas from excluding the abortion giant Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid program, stating that the exclusion would likely cause “irreparable harm” to prospective clients.
“Should the court fail to issue injunctive relief, members of the patient class will be denied their choice of provider for family planning services,” wrote U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker.
As previously reported, last August, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson directed the state Department of Human Services to terminate its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood. He said that the decision was influenced by the Center for Medical Progress’ video exposes outlining Planned Parenthood’s alleged harvesting and sale of aborted baby organs.
“It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them,” Hutchinson outlined in a statement. “This includes their affiliated organization, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.”
But Planned Parenthood opined that by revoking the agreement, states like Arkansas were aligning themselves with “extremists.”
“The politicians behind these reckless policies have allied themselves with extremists who will stop at nothing to end access to abortion—breaking laws, pushing misinformation, and violence and harassment of women and doctors,” it said.
It filed a federal lawsuit along with three anonymous plaintiffs, seeking an injunction against the state’s revocation of its inclusion in the Arkansas Medicaid program. Baker granted an injunction to the three specific complainants last October, but Planned Parenthood soon asked that the order be expanded to the entire state.
On Thursday, Baker sided with the organization, opining that “harms” from excluding Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program “would affect the patient class as a whole.” The state had argued that women will not suffer since there are other providers in the state that provide women’s health and reproductive services.
“This is a win for the Arkansans who rely on Planned Parenthood of the Heartland for birth control, cancer screenings, and other essential health care,” Suzanna de Baca, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement. “Every person deserves access to quality, affordable health care from the provider they know and trust, and today, the court recognized that.”
But Attorney General Leslie Rutledge noted that the fight is not over.
“[Baker’s] order unfortunately allows Planned Parenthood to continue to use its patients to pad its bottom line at taxpayers’ expense,” she said in a statement. “Thankfully, the ultimate issues in this case will be decided by the Court of Appeals.”
As previously reported, in its annual report released at the end of December, Planned Parenthood outlined that the organization performed 323,999 abortions nationwide during the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
As it has been in previous years, Planned Parenthood’s largest focus was sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), as it tested and/or treated over four million people for sexual ailments, with over 3.5 million tests and 32 thousand men and women being treated for ailments contracted through sexual activity.
Over 2.9 million people were provided with contraceptives or other forms of birth control in 2014—from temporary to permanent, including over 900 thousand emergency contraception kits. The figure is down from 3.5 million the year before, and 3.7 million in 2012.
Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms as it is not licensed to operate mammogram machines, and its annual report outlined that less than 700,000 women received services surrounding cancer screenings, equating to just seven percent of its services, while STD testing and contraceptives accounted for 76 percent of its services.