Add the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the list of courts that has struck down laws like that adopted in Arknasas to deprive Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood because politicians disapprove of the organization’s abortion services. The money cut off is not for medical exams, but for a range of other health services, mostly for women.
A district judge has temporarily blocked a similar money blockade in Arkansas, directed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The latest court ruling concerns Utah. There, as in Arkansas and other states, the money cutoffs have been defended on the basis of dishonest videos circulated about Planned Parenthood by an anti-abortion group. The videos concerned legal use of fetal tissue at two Planned Parenthood affiliates, neither in Arkansas (or Utah).
The Circuit Court noted that the funding cutoff was based on misinformation and that it was designed to punish the organization for engaging in a legal activity. The cutoffs have harmed public health, by reducing availability of contraception and medical exams for poor women.
You could easily substitute Arkansas and Hutchinson for the state and state official named in the Utah case.
he 10th Circuit further noted that prior to Herbert’s defunding order, “at no time has UDOH [Utah Department of Health] complained about the services provided by PPAU, or otherwise claimed that PPAU was not qualified to provide services.” The opinion further explained that not only had PPAU won competitive contracts from the state on multiple occasions but the amount provided through those grants had also been increased in exchange for continuing service.
As the court concluded, Herbert “more likely than not” put politics above program effectiveness when making his decision to block PPAU’s funding:
Considering all of this evidence together, we conclude that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert issued the Directive to punish PPAU for the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights it has identified in this litigation. In particular, we conclude that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert, a politician and admitted opponent of abortion, viewed the situation that presented itself by release of the CMP videos as an opportunity to take public action against PPAU, deprive it of pass-through federal funding, and potentially weaken the organization and hamper its ability to provide and advocate for abortion services.
Facts and law won’t trump the religion that is driving Asa Hutchinson, Leslie Rutledge and the Republican majority legislature to limit medical services for women.