Planned Parenthood wins Mississippi lawsuit aimed at blocking Medicaid money from abortion providers
Another federal judge has decided that states have to fund clinics where abortions are performed, so there are still systems in America that seem to not be totally broken. On Thursday, Planned Parenthood won a Mississippi suit blocking funding from Medicaid dollars. The suit wasn’t aimed just at Planned Parenthood — lawmakers wanted to withhold all state Medicaid funds that went to clinics that performed abortions, although 99 percent of counties in Mississippi had no abortion clinic. So, yes, it’s mainly a win for Planned Parenthood.
The good U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III decided to block the law, which went into effect in July and ruled in favor of two Planned Parenthood affiliates, in the name of good ol’ common sense. Judge Jordan noted that every other court that’s looked at similar laws in other states has found that at the end of the day, “free-choice-of-provider” provisions of federal laws dictate how Medicaid funds are distributed. There was a case in September in Louisiana that also examined Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood and reached the same conclusion.
Thank you, Judge Jordan, for not challenging longstanding statutes and logic. Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, was obviously pretty pleased with the decision. Richards said in a statement, “Yet another court has said it is unacceptable for politicians to dictate where women can go for their health care. Planned Parenthood will fight for our patients at every turn.”
As everyone knows, Planned Parenthood does a lot more than provide services surrounding abortion. Women (and men, by the way) are welcome at Planned Parenthood for STI testing and other sexual health care, but they also offer general health care, like physicals, vaccines, and flu shots. They offer support groups and counseling. They’ll screen you for diabetes and cholesterol. Planned Parenthood does everything — on a sliding payment scale — to serve their communities. This law would have taken all federal Medicaid funds away from them in the state, even though it’s really abortion that lawmakers have an issue with. Mississippi legislators wanted to defund a clinic for the unprivileged to get their freaking blood pressure checked because they don’t believe a woman has a right to choose an abortion.
Legislation concerning abortion is always a slow battle, but in the past few months, there have been some rulings in favor of Planned Parenthood and getting rid of useless obstacles to women accessing abortion, like the Supreme Court decisions in Wisconsin and Texas this past June. They’re small, incremental rulings, but when it comes to the legal system, that’s how things work. It’s good to know that attitudes in the federal courts are sometimes on the side of women’s health and women’s civil rights.
The courts might be, but politicians aren’t of course. Just the other night, Republican nominee Donald Trump outlined a view of late-term abortion that in no way matches reality. And people seem to believe him, which is why they try to block state and federal funds for clinics. Like Mississippi’s Republican (and Trump supporting) Governor Phil Bryant, who said he was “obviously disappointed with the ruling” and was looking into ways to subvert the ruling and still sign the ban into law. He’s hell bent on getting rid of abortion in the state; it’s like all he thinks about at night, apparently. He’s pretty close to it, too. Remember: 99 percent of counties in Mississippi don’t have a clinic that offers abortions, and Bryant believes in banning all abortions, even in the case of rape.
The fight for access to healthcare and safe abortions is far from over in Mississippi, but this was a good step.