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Federal judge blocks Indiana Planned Parenthood funding restrictions

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] on Monday granted a permanent injunction, halting lawmakers from preventing Medicaid recipients from accessing health care services at Planned Parenthood clinics. The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana [advocacy website] on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky [official website] after a 2011 Indiana law [text] blocking the Indiana Department of Health [official website] from signing contracts with any group that performs abortions, except hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, went into effect. The decision marks [AP report] the end of the two-year legal battle, making the 2011 preliminary injunction [opinion, PDF] permanent. The decision comes after the US Supreme Court [official website] refused in May to hear Indiana's appeal in the case. In its memorandum in opposition to the motion for preliminary injunction [text, PDF], the Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health argued that the plaintiffs had no cause of action to enforce the "freedom of choice" provision of the Medicaid Act [text], the law was not unconstitutional, and public policy and the balance of equities favored the state.

Last year the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] the injunction. The court found that the law, which would block federal and state funding to all "entities which perform abortions," violated the Medicaid statute [text] because it unjustifiably limited patient choice of health care providers. Even though federal and state funding may not be used for abortions after the Hyde Amendment [backgrounder, PDF], Indiana lawmakers sought to remove all support to entities that provide abortions regardless of the source of the funding. The injunction allowed Planned Parenthood to continue serving its Medicaid patients pending a reversal on appeal.

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