Planned Parenthood: Organization's Victory in Indiana Is a Victory For All Women

Finally, some good news when it comes to reproductive rights. The Supreme Court has declined to consider the state of Indiana’s appeal to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood. After years of a constant stream of new restrictions and funding cuts around the country, this is an encouraging precedent that may keep Planned Parenthood’s doors open in other states.

The Indiana law, which was passed in May 2011, cut off funds for Planned Parenthood clinics serving women on Medicaid. The law was blocked in June 2011 by a federal judge on the grounds that the law penalized Planned Parenthood for performing abortions and conflicted with the federal Medicaid statute. A federal appeals court upheld the decision in October 2012.

The law was one of many statewide and federal efforts to penalize Planned Parenthood for providing abortions and shut down its clinics, regardless of the other vital services it provides. Nine states have tried to cut family planning budgets, and seven have made it harder for clinics that provide abortions to receive state or federal grants. A bill to defund Planned Parenthood nationally passed in the House but failed in the Senate. When the Susan G. Komen foundation tried to pander to conservative interests by pulling grants for breast-cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, the national outrage that resulted forced it to back down. 

The strategies of these efforts are both absurd and brutally effective. Because of the Hyde Amendment, using government funding for abortion services is already prohibited. The funding Indiana and other states seek to cut off goes towards vital health services for low-income women, such as cancer screenings, STI tests, and contraceptive counseling. The logic behind cutting off funds, then, is that if Planned Parenthood has no funds to operate, no abortions can take place – and no other health services can be provided either.

Texas is an example of what happens when Planned Parenthood gets shut down out of spite. After Texas cut funding to Planned Parenthood in 2011 (and lost $30 million in federal Medicaid money as a result), 53 clinics had to close and as many as 200,000 Texas women lost access to contraceptives and basic preventative care. As a result, Texas’ health commission projects that Texas families will have nearly 24,000 unplanned births in 2014. State clinics have proved unable to provide care to such a high caseload.

With lost Medicaid funding and millions of dollars in increased health care costs, Texas will be paying for its decision for a long time to come. Luckily for Indiana, Planned Parenthood clinics will now stay open, and Indiana won’t have the chance to hurt low-income women or its own budget.