Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Planned Parenthood Wins Fight against Mississippi Funding Law

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Planned Parenthood Wins Fight against Mississippi Funding Law

Article excerpt

A federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law that banned Medicaid spending to any organization associated with abortion providers, siding with two Planned Parenthood affiliates in their June challenge to the law.

The law would have cut off Medicaid funding to the state's only abortion clinic, as well as to its single Planned Parenthood clinic, which doesn't provide abortions, according to the Jackson Free Press.

In his decision, Judge Daniel Jordan cited a September appeals court ruling on a law passed in Louisiana, writing that "essentially every court to consider similar laws has found that they violate" federal rules prohibiting the blocking of Medicaid funds to qualified providers.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican who says he wants to end abortion in the state, said in a statement that he was "obviously disappointed" with the ruling.

"I believe the law was the right thing to do and I will continue to stand with the legislature and people of Mississippi who do not want their hard-earned money going to the largest abortion provider in the nation," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Legislative chambers in conservative-led states have sheltered the flame of opposition to abortion services, enacting hundreds of restrictions in recent years that choke off funding streams and erect obstacles to access. In response, Planned Parenthood has taken those laws to federal courts - a strategy that has generally worked in its favor.

That's particularly true when the funding stream comes from Medicaid, one of two federal programs that keeps low-income clinics like Planned Parenthood affiliates running. In fact, Medicaid contributes as much as 40 percent of Planned Parenthood's funding, noted NPR in 2015. The Mississippi clinics were an exception: the Jackson Free Press reports that combined Medicaid payments were less than $1,000 over the past few years.

States have had more success in restricting money from a federal family-planning program, Title X. In 2014, an appeals court upheld a Kansas law that prioritized county health departments for Title X funding over reproductive service providers, effectively starving Planned Parenthood and other family-planning clinics, according to the Associated Press. …

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