Following an undercover investigation and video that appeared to show Planned Parenthood staffers violating federal prohibitions on the sale of fetal tissues and body parts, several Republican-led states moved to cut Medicaid funding from the organization primarily known for providing abortion services.
As Newsmax reported, efforts by Texas and Louisiana leaders that had been tied up in legal challenges were advanced when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the states were legally allowed to redirect the Medicaid funding.
“The provider of her choice is unqualified”
The ruling reverses a lower court’s decision in favor of Planned Parenthood, which blocked the path for defunding the organization. This decision is also applicable in Mississippi since that state falls under the circuit’s jurisdiction.
Challenges are likely, however, and the case is expected to land before the U.S. Supreme Court for a final decision.
The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by seven women in Texas who opposed the state’s determination that Planned Parenthood was unqualified to receive state funding.
Writing for the 11-judge majority in this week’s ruling, however, Judge Priscilla Owens determined that the women had no standing to challenge the determination.
Owens acknowledged that federal statute “unambiguously provides that a Medicaid beneficiary has the right to obtain services from the qualified provider of her choice,” the same statute “does not unambiguously say that a beneficiary may contest or otherwise challenge a determination that the provider of her choice is unqualified.”
“Vulnerable to unlawful state interference”
According to National Review, Owens continued by pointing out that “whether a provider is ‘qualified’ … is a matter to be resolved between the State (or the federal government) and the provider.”
As Newsmax’s report explained, Planned Parenthood and its advocates have argued that the cut in state Medicaid funding would result in millions of women missing out on vital healthcare.
Judge James Dennis appeared to agree, writing in the court’s dissenting opinion that women living in the court’s jurisdiction are now “vulnerable to unlawful state interference with their choice of health care providers.”
Abby Johnson, an anti-abortion advocate who once directed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, insisted that there is “no reason for women to go to Planned Parenthood to receive health care when they can go to far superior health care centers and receive more comprehensive health care services.”
As for David Daleiden, the journalist behind the 2015 undercover videos, the ruling serves as vindication for his cause. He said: “The full federal 5th Circuit’s decision this week confirms that our undercover footage is accurate and reliable evidence of serious criminality in the abortion industry and fetal trafficking enterprises, and it affirms the broad authority that state and federal administrators have to defund entities like Planned Parenthood for illegally selling the body parts of aborted infants.”