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Federal appeals court urged to uphold Indiana abortion funding restrictions
Federal appeals court urged to uphold Indiana abortion funding restrictions
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[JURIST] The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) [advocacy website] on Monday filed an amicus curiae brief [text, PDF] seeking to uphold an Indiana state law [HEA 1210 text] that would block Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) [advocacy website] and other organizations providing abortion services. The brief, filed in the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website], urges the court to reverse a lower court ruling that granted a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against the bill, which was signed into law in May. The ACLJ contends that the law is not preempted by federal Medicaid law:

Federal Medicaid statutes and regulations give States broad discretion to craft the rules applicable to their Medicaid programs. Congress left intact the States’ authority to determine what makes an entity qualified to provide Medicaid services, while ensuring that Medicaid recipients may utilize any practitioner deemed to be qualified under State law. Since HEA 1210 does not limit a beneficiary’s ability to choose among providers that are deemed to be qualified, it is consistent with federal Medicaid law.

The advocacy group also maintains that the law does not impose an undue burden on women seeking abortions and does not violate doctors’ rights. The brief was filed on behalf of 41 members of Congress and over 25,000 Americans.

In May, a federal judge refused to block the law [JURIST report] upon passage. But the June ruling from the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] granting the injunction is in line with a recent US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] brief that urged the court to grant an injunction [brief, PDF] to stop the enforcement of the Indiana law [JURIST report]. The brief echoed arguments made earlier this month by the Obama administration, which argued against the law [JURIST report] in a letter to the state—one of several to have acted recently to tighten restrictions on abortions. In May, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging a South Dakota law requiring women to seek counseling at a pregnancy center and wait three days before obtaining an abortion. Earlier that week, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a pair of bills [JURIST report] that would have restricted state funding for abortions and banned them altogether after 20 weeks. Also in May, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill that requires women seeking an abortion to first get a sonogram [JURIST report]. Multiple states have acted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain, including Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas and Idaho [JURIST reports].