By Dave Andrusko
It’s always risky business to try to extrapolate from an initial judicial ruling, but U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s decision Wednesday to deny a request by Planned Parenthood of Indiana for a temporary restraining order against a new Indiana law that denies state-directed funding for businesses and organizations performing abortions in the state is very encouraging.
In her four-page order, Judge Pratt (according to CNN, the state’s first African-American jurist), pointed out that there are “exacting standards required for a temporary restraining order” (including showing “irreparable harm”) which Planned Parenthood had not met. The impact is that the funding restrictions go into effect immediately.
The measure (part of “House Enrolled Act 1210” ) specifically blocks the state Department of Health from signing contracts with any group performing abortions; there are exception for hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers. It is estimated that PPFA would lose around $2 million in funds.
“This is a major setback for Planned Parenthood,” said Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter. “Obviously it had hoped to keep public funding flowing into its operations as long as possible.
“It’s all about abortion for Planned Parenthood,” Fichter added. “If it wants to remain eligible for state-directed funds, it can close its abortion operations today.”
Planned Parenthood of Indiana was in court hours after Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law on Tuesday.
A major contention in the lawsuit was that vitally important health services would be unavailable. According to Fichter, “Contrary to Planned Parenthood’s claims that low-income women will lose access to health care in Indiana, Governor Daniels has affirmed that there are 800 Medicaid providers in the counties in which centers related to Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses stand to lose access to state-directed funding.”
Moreover there are, Fichter said, “231 Medicaid providers in the three counties in which Planned Parenthood currently operates its Indiana abortion clinics.”
According to Jane Jankowski, Daniels’s press secretary, “This [law] isn’t going to affect anybody’s health care.”
The Indianapolis Star reports that the parties will return to Judge Pratt’s chambers on June 6 to hear oral arguments on the ACLU’s for a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the new law.
But “typically a judge’s reluctance to even temporarily put a law on hold does not bode well for the plaintiff, in this case Planned Parenthood,” reports the Star’s Heather Gillers.