U.S. Supreme Court secures a surprise win for Planned Parenthood… for now
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld victories in lower courts by Planned Parenthood after Republican-led states sought to strip the organization of Medicaid funding following the court’s move further to the right with the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh.
Planned Parenthood has been ground zero in the fight over abortion rights for some time. As it stands, Planned Parenthood can only use Medicaid funds for contraception services, breast cancer screenings, and other medical services, not abortion. Federal funds cannot pay for a person’s abortion except in the cases of endangered life, incest, and rape. Still, the Right has targeted the organization for being a major provider of the service in general.
These particular cases stem from incidents in 2015, when an anti-abortion group published misleadingly edited videos of Planned Parenthood officials talking about trafficking fetal tissues. Despite the videos being misrepresented and compromised, several states took action to end Medicaid agreements with the organization based on their existence.
Kansas and Louisiana, two of the states that terminated Medicaid provider agreements, had many Medicaid patients demand they restore the agreements on the grounds that the state had violated the core Medicaid requirement of allowing patients the freedom to obtain their healthcare from any qualified provider.
As the case was heard in lower courts, Medicaid patients won, and states were ordered to restore Medicaid provider status to Planned Parenthood. Kansas and Louisiana appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that Medicaid patients cannot sue simply because certain healthcare providers are not included in their coverage. According to NBC news, lawyers for Louisiana told the court, “Allowing private enforcement destroys the careful balance Congress established between the states and federal agencies.” But Planned Parenthood argued that the states are targeting them because they offer protected abortion services, separate from federal funding.
This week, SCOTUS refused to take up the appeals, securing the initial lower courts’ wins, with both Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh joining the liberal minority of the court. Some have noted that the two conservative justices may simply be avoiding the issue for now due to accusations Justice Kavanaugh committed sexual assault that surfaced during his confirmation hearing.