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Federal Judge Blocks Bentley’s Effort to Deny State Funds to Planned Parenthood

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, October 28, United States District Judge Myron Thompson issued a ruling ordering Alabama to restore Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) on Wednesday released a statement in response to the Court’s order of preliminary injunction in the Planned Parenthood Southeast lawsuit. The Governor said, “For the last two months, Alabama has denied payment to Planned Parenthood Southeast. The good news is that as a result of the strong opposition by Alabama and a few other states to the practice of accepting reimbursement for harvesting fetal organs, the national Planned Parenthood organization has changed course and will no longer continue this deplorable practice. I am disappointed, and vehemently disagree with the Court’s ruling today.  We are reviewing the opinion and will determine the next legal steps within the appeal period.”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan in her own statement said, “Today United States District Judge Myron Thompson stepped into Alabama with a ruling to reinstate Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business industry in the nation.  Governor Robert Bentley correctly blocked Alabama taxpayer money from the organization yet we are held hostage again by another politically charged decision from the federal judiciary.”

US Representative Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) said that ulings like this by federal courts across the country demonstrate  exactly why Congress must offer states new legal tools on the matter.  Rep. Roby said, “No taxpayer should be forced to fund an organization that aborts more than 350,000 unborn babies every year, and no state should be forced to contract services through the nation’s largest abortion provider.”

Rep. Roby said, “That’s why my pro-life colleagues and I in Congress must fight to make  sure states like Alabama have the legal tools necessary to sever contracts with Planned Parenthood or any organization that performs abortions.”

Rep. Roby has argued that public health contracts with Planned Parenthood are unnecessary given the abundance of Federally-Qualified and Rural Health Centers that offer an array of services.  Rep. Roby said, “There are more than 13,000 Federal Qualified and Rural Health Centers throughout this country offering low-cost health care to women.  They outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics 20-1.”

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The preliminary injunction will stop enforcement of Governor Robert Bentley’s efforts to block Medicaid patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers while the case goes forward.

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Staci Fox said “Today’s ruling is a victory for the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for quality, compassionate affordable health care.  It’s outrageous that Governor Bentley is trying to take care away from women and families in our communities who need it the most. This case isn’t about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the hardworking women who seek lifesaving and life-changing care at our health centers.”

The President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards said, “For the fourth time in six weeks, the courts have ruled to protect access to care at Planned Parenthood. Governor Bentley’s misguided attempt to score political points on the backs of Alabama’s women has been stopped for now, but it’s clear that politicians will not stop in their attempts to ban abortion and block access to care at Planned Parenthood.  Whether it’s in court or in Congress, Planned Parenthood will continue to fight for women’s health and rights in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and across the country.”

The Executive Director of the ACLU of Alabama Susan Watson said, “Judge Thompson has rightly recognized that the State of Alabama’s termination of the Medicaid provider agreement is a violation of federal law.  The State of Alabama cannot impermissibly target abortion providers for unfair treatment. Today’s ruling is a victory for the women of Alabama.”

In August, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU asked for a preliminary injunction to stop the State of Alabama’s efforts to block patients from accessing care through Medicaid at Planned Parenthood Southeast. Planned Parenthood’s complaint the Governor’s actions violate federal law and could make it harder for women to access birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, and other preventive health care services.

Chairman Lathan said, “This is another example of why the 2016 elections are so important. We need to elect a Republican president who will appoint conservative jurists. Hillary Clinton is an ardent supporter of the abortion industry and will not hesitate to appoint more liberal judges. Their decisions impact our lives. I am disappointed and disheartened that our tax money will continue to fund Alabama abortions. With our voices heard at election time, we can take our nation back.”

Planned Parenthood Southeast has two health centers in Alabama, located in Birmingham and Mobile.  Planned Parenthood is represented by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Planned Parenthood Southeast filed suit to protect access to care for women in Alabama.

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After controversial undercover videos were released by the Center for Medical Progress purportedly showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting and marketing of organs from aborted babies, several governors, including Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, sought to divert state Medicaid funding away from the organization.


Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.