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Planned Parenthood prevails at Supreme Court

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Tue May 28, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Justices let stand appeals court ruling that had rejected Indiana law
  • Law sought to block Medicaid reimbursements if health provider also performs abortions
  • Planned Parenthood says only a fraction of services related to abortion
  • Medicaid is health care program for poor and disabled

Washington (CNN) -- Planned Parenthood can continue to receive Medicaid funding in Indiana, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal by the state on Tuesday.

The justices let stand a lower court decision that had blocked patient reimbursement through Medicaid for health providers that perform abortions as part of overall medical care.

That would include private groups like Planned Parenthood that fund its abortion care independently.

Planned Parenthood said it served 85,000 patients statewide in 2011. Of those, 5,580 received abortions, but most were given basic reproductive health care, including contraceptives and health screenings.

A federal appeals court last year permanently blocked enforcement of the Indiana law, ruling that Medicaid regulations clearly give program participants the power to select their own qualified health care provider.

Indiana officials asked the Supreme Court to intervene, but the justices declined without comment.

Medicaid is a nationwide health program for low-income patients that is funded primarily by the federal government but administered by the states.

Federal law bans Medicaid funds to pay for abortions in most instances, but Indiana's law went further.

The measure specifically blocked the Indiana Department of Health from signing contracts with any group performing abortions, with the exception of hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.

The controversial law was allowed to go into effect in 2011 by a federal judge hours after it was approved by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels.

In signing the bill, Daniels and other state officials said other options existed for Medicaid patients seeking reproductive health care.

But the appeals court later weighed in and reversed it.

There was no immediate reaction to the high court denial from current Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

But Planned Parenthood, which bills itself as the "nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate," applauded the move.

"Over and over again, courts have said that states cannot block people from getting preventive health care at Planned Parenthood, and the vast majority of the American public agrees," said Cecile Richards, president of the nonprofit's Action Fund.

The funding issue is not isolated to Indiana.

Courts around the country have blocked similar laws aimed at Planned Parenthood in Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. But the group has experienced legal setbacks in Oklahoma and Texas.

The high court cases are Planned Parenthood of Indiana v. Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (12-1159); and Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana (12-1039).

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