Washington Post: Indiana governor plans to sign bill blocking Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood

This story appeared online at The Washington Post on April 29, 2011.

Indiana governor plans to sign bill blocking Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood

By: Rachel Weiner

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) announced Friday that he plans to sign legislation that would prevent Planned Parenthood in the state from receiving Medicaid funds. When he does, Indiana will be the first state to take that step.

“I will sign HEA 1210 when it reaches my desk a week or so from now,” Daniels said. “I supported this bill from the outset, and the recent addition of language guarding against the spending of tax dollars to support abortions creates no reason to alter my position.”

Activists on both sides of the issue lobbied the governor, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, heavily on his decision. Daniels opposes abortion rights, but he has been open to family planning groups in his time as governor of Indiana. His call for a “truce” on social issues in the 2012 presidential campaign led to plenty of speculation about which way he would go.

“Mitch Daniels knows there is no truce on doing what is right,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said after Daniels’s announcement.

“Gov. Mitch Daniels has put his presidential ambitions above thousands of Hoosier women, who, as a result of his actions, will lose access to birth control, cancer screenings and other basic health care,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “With the stroke of a pen, Daniels will declare his truce on social issues to be over.”

Medicaid is jointly funded by federal and state governments, and state governments distribute the money. Federal law prohibits states from deciding which organizations receive Medicaid funding for any reason other than quality of care. Indiana could lose $4 million in federal family planning funds as a result of its legislation.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana gets $3 million a year in federal money. The organization vowed to take the state to court.

“We will be filing an injunction immediately to try to halt this alarming erosion of public health policy in our state,” President Betty Cockrum said in a statement.

Daniels’s decision could be seen as a sign of his intention to run in a Republican presidential primary where he would have to work to win the trust of social conservatives. However, some close to the governor say that, outside of 2012 considerations, Daniels cares about his legacy as an anti-abortion leader and wants to protect that reputation.

Daniels said in a statement that women’s health care will remain easily available in the state after the law takes effect. Roughly half of all births in Indiana are covered by Medicaid.

“I commissioned a careful review of access to services across the state and can confirm that all non-abortion services, whether family planning or basic women’s health, will remain readily available in every one of our 92 counties,” he said in his statement. “In addition, I have ordered the Family and Social Services Administration to see that Medicaid recipients receive prompt notice of nearby care options.”

Share this article: