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Federal court blocks Mississippi law disqualifying Medicaid benefits for non-theraupeautic abortions

[JURIST] Judge Daniel P. Jordan III of the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi (Northern Division) [official website] on Thursday permanently enjoined [order, PDF] the state of Mississippi from "enforcing, threatening to enforce, or otherwise applying the provisions of Mississippi Code section 43-13-117.4," which disqualifies "any health-care provider that offers, or is affiliated with entities that offer, nontherapeutic abortions" from participating in the state's Medicaid program. Planned Parenthood [advocacy website] argued that the law "unconstitutionally limited" healthcare provider options for patients and would have imposed a heavy burden on low-income patients. Jordan stated: "Essentially every court to consider similar laws has found that they violate ยง 1396a(a)(23) of Title 42 of the United States Code, the so-called 'FreeChoice-of-Provider Provision.'" Specifically referring to a decision last month from the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which Mississippi conceded is "controlling and dispositive" in this case, the court granted Planned Parenthood's motion for a declaratory judgment and permanent injunctive relief finding Mississippi Code Section 43-13-117.4 void. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant [official website], a proponent of the law, expressed his disappointment [Reuters report] with the ruling stating that he "will continue to stand with the legislature and people of Mississippi who do not want their hard-earned money going to the largest abortion provider in the nation."

There has been a recent slew of state laws dealing with abortion. Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that a state law adding new licensing and inspection rules for facilities that perform abortions is unconstitutional. Last month a federal judge issued a temporary injunction [JURIST report] against Arkansas' suspension of Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood after Governor Asa Hutchinson [official website] terminated [AP report] the Medicaid funding last year following national controversy ignited by video recordings of Planned Parenthood's practices. In August a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida on Thursday permanently blocked [JURIST report] portions of a Florida law that would stop funding to Planned Parenthood. In July the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against an Arizona law that would potentially prevent low-income women from obtaining healthcare from their provider of choice. Earlier the same month a federal judge placed an injunction [JURIST report] on an Indiana law that would have banned women from seeking abortion procedures when they are based on race, sex, or the potential for or actual diagnosis of a disability in the fetus. Recently the US Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-3 in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt [SCOTUSblog materials] that a Texas law [HB2 text] imposing certain requirements on abortion clinics and doctors creates an undue burden on access to abortion, and is therefore unconstitutional [JURIST report].

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