Federal Judge Blocks Alabama From Defunding Planned Parenthood

If Republicans want to strip Planned Parenthood of state Medicaid funding, they'll have to change federal law first.


American Life League/Flickr

Alabama must restore its contract with Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider, at least for now, ruled a federal court Wednesday. U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson pointed out that because Alabama offered no reason whatsoever for the sudden defunding, the state was likely in violation of federal Medicaid law, which requires letting patients see any provider that accepts Medicaid unless the state establishes that they're not qualified. 

Providers, of course, are not generally obligated to take Medicaid patients, and many don't because of low reimbursement rates. But under federal law, Medicaid patients have "freedom of choice" among qualified Medicaid providers.

Gov. Robert Bentley announced in August that he would end Alabama's agreement with the state's two Planned Parenthood clinics. Soon after, Planned Parenthood Southeast filed a lawsuit.

Bentley's letter to Planned Parenthood terminating its provider agreement listed no reason, though in public statements he identified a string of videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) concerning fetal tissue donation programs at some Planned Parenthood clinics. "I respect human life and do not want Alabama to be associated with an organization that does not," said Bentley. But neither of Alabama's Planned Parenthood clinics participate in fetal tissue programs, Judge Thompson noted in his decision.

Alabama is one of several states trying to strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid funding. Earlier this month, Texas health officials informed the state's Planned Parenthood clinics that they were "liable, directly or by affiliation, for a series of serious Medicaid program violations" as highlighted in the CMP videos.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens responded that "it is completely outrageous that Texas officials are using these thoroughly discredited, fraudulent videos to cut women off from preventive health care," and vowed that Planned Parenthood would "fight back against this outrageous, malicious, political attack in Texas with everything we've got."

Louisiana also attempted to end its Medicaid relationship with Planned Parenthood, but a federal judge ruled October 19 that it must provide funding for at least 14 more days.

"In 2011, when Planned Parenthood was also in the headlines, Indiana passed a law barring Medicaid funding to any entity that also performed abortions, even if those abortions were performed with nonpublic funds," as NPR pointed out in August. A federal appeals court ultimately blocked it. "Although Indiana has broad authority to exclude unqualified providers from its Medicaid program, the state does not have plenary authority to exclude a class of providers for any reason—more particularly for a reason unrelated to provider qualifications," wrote Appeals Court Judge Diane Sykes in the majority opinion.

It's unlikely the Alabama or Louisiana efforts will succeed in efforts to cut ties with Planed Parenthood at present. If Republicans want to strip Planned Parenthood of state Medicaid funding, Congress will have to change federal Medicaid law first.  

NEXT: House GOP Approves Paul Ryan as Speaker, Military Blimp AWOL Over Pennsylvania, Austria Building a Border Fence: P.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “no reason whatsoever for the sudden defunding,”

    Completely out of the blue.

    1. No reason whatsoever. They were just bored I guess.

      1. I bet the judge would have nothing to say if for no reason they decided to give them more taxpayer money.

        1. There is a constitutional obligation to chop up babies and sell the parts.

    2. What’s funny is, the state gave a reason:

      They perform abortions.

      1. Seems that this judge invoked the “That don’t count” rule. No reports of him sticking fingers in ears, yet.

  2. Grifters gonna grift. Bobby actually thought he could remove PP from the federal teat?

  3. So if Alabama had offered its reason for the defunding, would that reason have been scrutinized or would it be enough to just offer it?

    1. Considering the counter argument is that “the state was *likely* in violation of federal Medicaid law”… yeah, it’s going to be baby steps all the way.

    2. Good question. For Eminent domain to be legit (as an example) the state merely need supply a reason for it. The court said explicitly that it wouldn’t judge the merits of that reason.

  4. “I respect human life and do not want Alabama to be associated with an organization that does not,” said Bentley.

    I suspect he’ll be ordering the Air Force out of Maxwell AFB any day now.

    1. Because if he does a single Bad Thing, consistency requires him to do nothing *but* Bad Things?

      But doesn’t that suppose that consistency is a Good Thing?

      But if he has to do only Bad Things, then he *must* be inconsistent, for the sake of consistency, right?

      I guess I have trouble figuring out this sort of logic.

      1. Duh, this is government, you just appoint people to do bad things. Then they do the bad thing and you’ve created a job.

      2. The logic is:
        – he doesn’t want AL to be associated with an organization that doesn’t respect human life.
        – The USAF drops bombs on human life.
        ? he doesn’t want AL to be associated with the USAF.

        1. So assume he’s wrong about the air force.

          I hope it’s not your bottom line that because he (supposedly) supports the air force, therefore he should support Planned Parenthood too.

          Perhaps he should support Al Quaeda? *They* don’t respect human life, either!

          Or is he being inconsistent about that, too?

          1. Does Al QDoba have a facility in Alabama?

            1. If the governor puts the word out, I’m sure one of their people could schedule a fundraising meeting.

        2. Speaking personally, when you don’t respect human life for its own sake, it makes these decisions much easier.

        3. This logic presumes, of course, that dropping bombs on human life and respecting human life are mutually exclusive propositions by definition. The concept of a “just war” is at least theoretically possible, even in libertarianism.

  5. “But neither of Alabama’s Planned Parenthood clinics participate in fetal tissue programs”

    So therefore they would support a law saying that recipients of taxpayer money aren’t allowed to participate in such programs?

    Just to reassure the paranoid public? I mean, they have nothing to lose by giving up the right to do what they aren’t doing anyway, right?

  6. It’s not me, it’s you.

  7. “t’s unlikely the Alabama or Louisiana efforts will succeed in efforts to (…).”

    Not your best effort.

  8. Maybe they can just burn down all the clinics.

  9. Federal law is morbidly resistant to being altered.

  10. Alabama is just not trying very hard. I’m pretty sure that if you gave me complete access to the PP affiliate’s records, I could find a technical violation or five, and hang kicking them out of the program on that.

  11. So what happens if they don’t pay? How much power does the Judge have? Can he stop all Federal funds into the State? Just curious.

  12. thats what happens when you take money from the fed’s you lose state rights to control

    1. You can opt out of receiving money from the feds, but you can’t opt out of them taking it from your citizens in the first place. Then if you do take it (back), they get to tell you what to do with it. It’s a lose-lose deal for the states.

  13. Does Illinois just give Planned Parenthood IOU’s or do they give ’em lottery tickets?

    1. They give PP the money that the lottery winners would have gotten.

  14. Get to the root: abolish social security and the IRS.

  15. Haha, suck it fundies! The public trough shall never run dry!


  16. Jewish law is rather lax when it comes to abortion. The mother’s mental health is a valid reason for having one.

    So whose religion decides?

    The essence of Jewish law is that the already born carry more weight in these decisions than the life of the unborn.

    American law currently accommodates well the Jewish position. However, anyone preferring a more restrictive regime is fairly free to practice their convictions.

    The best way to end what you abhor is to get the Feds out of the practice of medicine. Let the choices be individual. As they should be.

    1. Religious groups disagree over whether black people have souls. Therefore, the deeply personal decision of whether to lynch a black person should obviously be left to the conscience of the would-be lyncher.

      If you don’t like lynching, don’t lynch anyone, but don’t impose your Sky-Daddy prejudices against lynching on other people.


  17. Start generating cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing j0bs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $9648 a month. I’ve started this j0b and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…


Please to post comments

Comments are closed.