A Supreme Court ruling today validated lower court victories for abortion provider Planned Parenthood in a legal battle over access to the controversial healthcare provider by Medicaid beneficiaries. (NBC News)
The dispute did not involve abortion, but the action by the justices keeps a hot-button political issue off the docket. Three of the court’s conservatives said the court should have taken the case.
After an anti-abortion group released videos in 2015 that purported to show officials from Planned Parenthood talking about selling fetal tissue, several states immediately terminated Medicaid provider agreements with the group’s affiliates. The videos were largely discredited, but the states involved said they found the allegations troubling.
Medicaid patients in Kansas and Louisiana, two of the states that took action against Planned Parenthood, claimed the states violated Medicaid’s requirement that patients must be free to seek their health care from any qualified and willing provider. They sued, and lower federal courts found in their favor, entering injunctions that ordered those states to lift their bans.
In declining to take up the states’ appeals, the Supreme Court’s action on Monday leaves those lower court victories for the Medicaid patients in place.
Planned Parenthood currently offers Medicaid recipients vaccines, physicals, screening for cancers most often affecting women, contraception services, and pregnancy tests.
Abortion is not offered, because federal funding cannot cover the procedure except in the rare cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening emergencies.
Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the Court’s liberal bloc, handing Planned Parenthood a decisive victory.