Judge Thwarts South Carolina Governor’s Order Ending Medicaid Funding to Planned Parenthood

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A federal judge appointed to the bench by then-President Barack Obama has issued a preliminary injunction thwarting an order from the governor of South Carolina that directed the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DDHS) to deem abortion facilities as being “unqualified to provide family planning services” and to cancel their enrollment in the state Medicaid program.

U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis ruled that South Carolina may not revoke Planned Parenthood’s participation in the Medicaid program for reasons that are unrelated to its inability to provide Medicaid-covered services.

“Defendant’s termination of PPSAT (Planned Parenthood South Atlantic) from South Carolina’s Medicaid program was not based on any alleged incompetence or inability of PPSAT to perform the medical services at issue,” she wrote. “Rather, it was based on the fact that PPSAT performs abortions outside the Medicaid program.”

“Because it is undisputed PPSAT is professionally competent to perform family planning services, Defendant’s termination of PPSAT from South Carolina’s Medicaid program violates [federal law surrounding state medical assistance],” Geiger Lewis concluded.

She rejected the State’s argument that in including Planned Parenthood in the program, it would be indirectly subsidizing abortion.

“[E]xcept in narrow circumstances required by federal law, the state’s Medicaid program does not cover abortions,” Geiger Lewis noted.

“PPSAT is reimbursed through the Medicaid program on a fee-for-service basis for covered services, and the Medicaid reimbursement rates in South Carolina do not even fully cover the cost of the Medicaid services PPSAT provides. Thus, PPSAT’s inclusion in South Carolina’s Medicaid program results in neither the direct or indirect use of State funds to pay for abortions.”

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Read the ruling in full here.

As previously reported, on July 13, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an order declaring that “the payment of taxpayer funds to abortion clinics, for any purpose, results in the subsidy of abortion and the denial of the right to life.”

“[A]bortion clinics’ primary focus on denying the right to life is contrary to and conflicts with the State’s obligation to preserve and protect that right,” he outlined.

McMaster noted that in August 2017, he directed DDHS to take steps to obtain a waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in order to exclude abortion facilities from the program.

However, since negotiations were ongoing and CMS had not yet approved the waiver, McMaster vetoed the 2018-2019 family planning appropriation in the DDHS budget and rather directed the organization to expend the funds in a manner that only reimburses family planning entities that do not perform abortions.

“Taxpayer dollars must not directly or indirectly subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood,” he said in his veto explanation. “There are a variety of agencies, clinics, and medical entities in South Carolina that receive taxpayer funding to offer important women’s health and family planning services without performing abortions.”

Read McMaster’s letter in full here and read McMaster’s order in full here.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic consequently sued the State, along with one of its patrons, arguing that federal law prohibits the government from obstructing a person on Medicaid from using the provider of their choice.

“South Carolina is already suffering from a chronic shortage of healthcare providers, especially those that will accept patients who use Medicaid as their insurance. For 40 years, Planned Parenthood has been a vital healthcare safety net for those patients in South Carolina,” it claimed in a statement in announcing the legal challenge.

There are two Planned Parenthood locations in South Carolina. Last August, McMaster ordered DDHS to create a publicly available list of women’s health and family planning offices operating within 25 miles of any abortion facility.

As previously reported, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic’s social media pages feature a number of sexually-related posts, including one posted on July 25 that read, “Masturbating is totally healthy and normal. There are tons of myths out there meant to scare you into thinking masturbation is wrong or bad. But the truth is, solo sex is perfectly safe. In fact, it’s actually the safest way to experience sexual pleasure—there’s no risk of pregnancy or STDs. #selflove #feelinmyself #facts #health”

It also posted a graphic on June 13 that asserts, “Trans women are women.”

On Sept. 5, it claimed, “Abortion is basic health care—it’s incredibly common, and it’s one of the safest medical procedures in the United States now that it’s legal.”

The organization applauded Geiger Lewis’ ruling, stating that it “demonstrates that playing political games with the health and dignity of women and families should not have any place in the everyday lives of South Carolinians.”

However, McMaster spokesman Brian Semmes said that while the governor is disappointed with the decision, “he will continue to do all that he can to make sure no taxpayer dollars either directly or indirectly subsidize abortions in South Carolina.”

“That’s why he ordered HHS to develop the waiver that it submitted to CMS for approval … and will continue to fight until every South Carolinian can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their taxpayer dollars are not being used to perform abortions,” he explained.

As previously reported, from its early years, Christians have decried abortion in America as being the savage murder of innocent children. Even in 1872, preacher Thomas De Witt Talmage wrote in his book “The Abominations of Modern Society”:

“Herod’s massacre of the innocents was as nothing compared to that of millions and millions by what I shall call ante-natal murders. You may escape the grip of the law, because the existence of such life was not known by society, but I tell you that at last God will shove down on you the avalanche of His indignation, and though you may not have wielded knife or pistol in your deeds of darkness, yet, in the day when John Wilkes Booth and Antony Probst come to judgment, you will have on your brow the brand of murderer.”

Ecclesiastes 11:5 also reads, “As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child, even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.”

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