Supreme Court Will Not Hear Planned Parenthood Defunding Appeal

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Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, the high court's liberal wing-with an assist from Justice Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, effectively voted to preserve the abortion giant's funding against attacks from conservatives and Republicans.

Most lower federal courts have found that private parties can challenge Medicaid funding decisions in court, although the federal appeals court in St. Louis rejected a similar court challenge and allowed Arkansas to end its contract with Planned Parenthood.

Only three judges - Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch - voted to grant certiorari.

Thomas wrote a dissent for the three conservatives, saying the court isn't doing its job.

"What explains the court's refusal to do its job here?" he wrote. Abortion opponents have said Planned Parenthood should not receive any government money, and they seized on heavily edited videos that claimed to show the nation's largest abortion provider profiting from sales of fetal tissue for medical research.

The organization sued in federal court, joined by individuals who said the efforts to cut funding violated a federal law that gives Medicaid patients the right to seek service from the accredited providers they choose. "We won't stop fighting for every patient who relies on Planned Parenthood for life-saving, life-changing care". "If Kavanaugh was going to deal a major blow to health care rights during his first session on the court, this would have been the case to do it", Tim Jost, an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, tells Politico. About 70 million people are enrolled in the program, including two million women who use Planned Parenthood clinics. The federal law that sets the standards for those plans stipulates in part that Medicaid recipients can obtain "assistance from any institution, agency, community pharmacy, or person, qualified to perform the service or services required... who undertakes to provide him such services".

Planned Parenthood contended in this case the states were singling them out for disfavored treatment because they separately provide constitutionally protected abortion services.

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The justices left intact lower court rulings that prevented the two states from stripping government healthcare funding from local Planned Parenthood affiliates.

Louisiana and Kansas appealed to the Supreme Court.

Similar defunding laws in Arizona, Ohio, Texas, and in have also been tossed by the lower courts.

The court has been considering whether to accept the cases since September. If the majority of the courts of appeals are correct, then Medicaid patients could sue when, for example, a State removes their doctor as a Medicaid provider or inadequately reimburses their provider.

"But these cases are not about abortion rights". She added that Kavanaugh and Thomas decision to withhold a dissent does not mean that they did not agree with the dissenting justices, but only that they did not want to hear the case at this time. "Resolving the question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood's ability to challenge the states' decisions".

In public statements, officials from Planned Parenthood declared the Supreme Court's decision to be a victory both for their organization and for women's access to healthcare.

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