Next Line in the Sand: Indiana, Obama & Planned Parenthood

Defund.PP“Nope. Zero.”

President Obama’s response to an inquiry about cutting funding to Planned Parenthood during budget debates earlier this year.

This was a clear line in the sand. President Obama is an unapologetic supporter of Planned Parenthood, even in the face of evidence that the organization is willing to assist those who might be abusing women and young girls.

The next line in the sand might be in Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. Reports broke yesterday (May 23, 2011) indicating that the Obama Administration is ready and poised to step in…possibly even going so far as to withhold all $4 million in Medicaid family planning dollars that Indiana receives. 

Planned Parenthood has already sued the state over the legislation in question. Although the judge denied Planned Parenthood’s request for an injunction to keep the law from going into effect until its constitutionality could be probed, the case is scheduled to move forward on June 6 with the judge promising to rule by July 1.  An Associated Press article quoting Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, indicates the state’s position:

“…is that Planned Parenthood could set up separate corporate entities to provide abortions and Medicaid-eligible family planning services such that tax dollars do not wind up subsidizing abortions indirectly,” Zoeller said.

So why the intervention by the federal government; why not let the courts decide? Part of the federal law governing Medicaid prohibits states from limiting patients’ choice of providers. The New York Times reports:

Federal officials have 90 days to act but may feel pressure to act sooner because Indiana is already enforcing its law, which took effect on May 10, and because legislators in other states are working on similar measures.

If a state Medicaid program is not in compliance with federal law and regulations, federal officials can take corrective action, including “the total or partial withholding” of federal Medicaid money. The mere threat of such a penalty is often enough to get states to comply. Actually imposing the penalty would, in many cases, hurt the very people whom Medicaid is intended to help.

Administration officials said the Indiana law imposed impermissible restrictions on the freedom of Medicaid recipients to choose health care providers.

Why is this Indiana law so controversial? What does it do? CBS News summarizes it well:

The law, which took effect May 10, bars state agencies from entering contracts or making grants with entities (besides hospitals) that perform abortions. It also breaks any such existing contracts. That means that Planned Parenthood facilities in the state lose $2 million in federal funding funneled through the state, including about $1.3 million from Medicaid funds allocated for family planning.

This prohibition on providers might be outside the state’s latitude for determining which organizations are eligible to receive funds because these terms are not related to the organization’s ability to provide necessary services, according to the experts cited by the New York Times article. Furthermore, according to several news outlets, Indiana’s own state Medicaid officers warned legislators about the possible loss of funding while the bill was still being debated.

So why did Indiana’s legislators decide to pass the bill? Why did Governor Mitch Daniels sign it?

Because it’s the right thing to do.

Many citizens in Indiana do not want to subsidize the abortion business by allowing tax dollars to go to abortion providers, even if these dollars do not directly fund abortion. And Hoosiers are not alone.

According to an op-ed piece by Charles Donovan at the Heritage Foundation, Indiana is only one signal among many sprouting up all across the country that Americans are looking for a ‘new normal’ on questions of life.

Since the beginning of this year, according to a count published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, state legislatures have introduced nearly 500 pro-life measures. Most alarming to the institute (which used to be part of Planned Parenthood) and its allies, an unprecedented number of such measures are being passed into law and many by wide margins.

Donovan then goes on to list many of the most newsworthy developments at the state level…not to mention the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives voted on April 14 to defund Planned Parenthood by a margin of 241 to 185.

The bottom line: the American public seems to want a change. Yet President Obama is fiercely wedded to keeping Planned Parenthood’s coffers full of taxpayer dollars.

Watching and waiting to see what happens in Indiana will be critical. Will President Obama yank $4 million from Indiana’s neediest citizens so that Planned Parenthood can keep raking in the tax dollar funding to subsidize its multi-million dollar abortion biz? (By the way, Planned Parenthood has managed to raise $500,000 in private money from across the coutry AND overseas to provide services to Medicaid-eligible patients at least through May 30, according to the Associated Press. But they still MUST have your tax dollars…)

A few other things to keep in mind as this decision looms:

  1. The Indiana law only partially defunds Planned Parenthood since $1.5 million of its funds are distributed through another organization that is not subject to the new law.
  2. Planned Parenthood of Indiana provided services to around 9,300 Medicaid patients last year. This amounts to about 1% of all people on Medicaid in the entire state of Indiana (with estimates ranging between 800,000 and 1.1 million Medicaid-eligible Hoosiers across the state).

If the law in Indiana is overturned in the courts or blocked by the federal administration, there will be one path of action remaining to defund Planned Parenthood.

If you want change, get thee to the voting booth!

2012 can’t come soon enough.

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