INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is not allowed to cut off Planned Parenthood's public funding for general health services solely because the organization also provides abortions, a federal judge said Friday in blocking parts of the state's tough new abortion law.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt's ruling granted Planned Parenthood of Indiana's request for a preliminary injunction on the state's move to defund the organization. It also sided with federal officials who said states cannot restrict Medicaid recipients' freedom to choose their health care provider or disqualify Medicaid providers merely because they also offer abortions.
Indiana attorney general's office spokesman Bryan Corbin said the state likely will appeal.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana has been without Medicaid funding since May 10, when Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law that cut off about $1.4 million and made Indiana the first state to deny the organization Medicaid funds for services such as breast exams and Pap tests.
Planned Parenthood, which serves about 9,300 Indiana clients on the state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people who receive Medicaid, was forced to stop seeing Medicaid patients this week after private donations that had paid those patients' bills ran out.
Planned Parenthood officials said Friday night they anticipate being able to offer services to Medicaid patients again beginning Saturday, and will file for reimbursement as they did before the law took effect.
"This decision will have immediate, positive consequences for our patients and our organization, the state's largest reproductive health care provider," said Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum.
The state had argued that federal law forbids Medicaid from covering abortions in most circumstances and that the program indirectly funds the procedures because Planned Parenthood's financial statements show it commingles Medicaid funds with other revenues. The state has argued Medicaid might subsidize some of the overhead costs for space where abortions are performed.
A recent federal Medicaid bulletin said states may not exclude qualified health care providers merely because they also provide abortions. Pratt noted in her ruling that the federal government had threatened to withhold some or all of Indiana's Medicaid funds because of the new law, which could total more than $5 billion annually and affect nearly 1 million residents.