Federal Judge temporarily reinstates Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood in Arkansas

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker

In mid-August pro-life Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson moved to cut state funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, ordering the Department of Human Services to sever its Medicaid contract with the abortion provider.

Referring to the then-six undercover videos brought to the public’s attention by the Center for Medical Progress, Gov. Hutchinson said

‘It is apparent that after recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them.”

The cutoff date was yesterday. However on Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker gave Planned Parenthood of the Heartland at least a 14 day reprieve. (PPH, a massive Midwestern PPFA abortion affiliate, also operates abortion clinics in Little Rock and Fayetteville, Arkansas.)

“At this stage of the proceedings, the court finds that the threat of irreparable harm to PPH and Jane Does [the three female plaintiffs] , and the public interest, outweighs the immediate interests and potential injuries to (the state),” Judge Baker wrote in a 19-page decision.

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“As governor, I disagree with the court’s decision,” Gov. Hutchinson said in a statement.

Ethical conduct by Medicaid providers is a relevant factor for the state to consider. Hopefully, the court or a higher court will reconsider the preliminary decision once the facts are fully developed. It is disappointing that a judge appointed by President Obama does not give sufficient weight to the morally repugnant conduct of Planned Parenthood displayed in a series of recently released videos.”

How much further delay there will be is unclear. Judge Baker’s order expires October 2. Linda Satter of Arkansas Online reported

Baker’s order provides only immediate, temporary relief. She said Thursday that she may consider a request for a preliminary injunction before the 14-day temporary restraining order expires. A preliminary injunction, which would require presentation of evidence beyond affidavits and exhibits already filed, likely would prevent the state from discontinuing Medicaid funding until the case is resolved.

The state says that over the past fiscal year Planned Parenthood received more than $51,000 in Medicaid payments for family planning and gynecological services.

Satter wrote that Judge Baker “said the plaintiffs’ questions about the legality of Hutchinson’s directive also show a likelihood of succeeding at this stage of the case.”

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