Obama Administration Refuses to Accept New Indiana Law Denying State-Directed Funding to Organizations Performing Abortions

By Dave Andrusko

Coming as no surprise, the Obama Administration yesterday sent a letter to the state of Indiana refusing to accept a new law that denies state-directed funding for businesses and organizations performing abortions, except for hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers.

“Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider’s scope of practice,” Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Donald Berwick wrote to Patricia Cassanova, the director of Indiana’s office of Medicaid Policy and Planning. “Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers.”

Berwick gave Indiana 60 days to appeal the decision. At a press briefing this morning, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Berwick “both said they expect Indiana to comply, declining to say whether the administration would withhold federal money should Indiana defy the order,“ the Associated Press reported.

The Indiana General Assembly approved the bill April 27. Two weeks later it was signed into law by Gov. Mitch Daniels on May 10. Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) immediately challenged the law in court, but District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s denied a request for a temporary restraining order.

On June 6 Pratt will hold a hearing on PPIN’s request for a permanent injunction. She is expected to decide by July 1 whether to continue allowing enforcement while she considers the case. Under the new law, Planned Parenthood stands to lose between $2 and $3 million in funds.

Indiana Congressman Marlin Stutzman issued a statement Wednesday in which he said, “I take it very seriously when any administration tells a State that it cannot administer its own programs. Health and Human Services should respect the will of Hoosiers who simply ask that their tax dollars do not subsidize an entity that maintains an abortion clinic.”

Rep. Stutzman pointed out that the new law will not change Medicaid services. “Indiana Family and Social Services Administration identified approximately 800 provider locations that will still provide non-abortion, health and family planning services under the new law. These facts are clear.”

The Obama administration “appears to be intent on trying to force Indiana to subsidize the business of abortion in direct contrast to the desires of the state legislature and the people of Indiana,” said Indiana RTL President and CEO Mike Fichter. “The state of Indiana has a right to determine how it will manage its Medicaid program and to select the providers it will partner with.”

It is probably no accident that last week, Senate Democrats asked the federal government to notify state Medicaid programs that there will be penalties for withholding funds.

Planned Parenthood is the recipient of an enormous amount of state and federal money. According to Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s annual report for 2008-2009, which reported over $1 billion in revenues, the amount it received in “Government Grants & Contracts” has grown from $165 million in 1998 to $363.3 million in the organization’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. During the same time, and at roughly the same rate, abortions have more than doubled at Planned Parenthood, from 165,509 in 1998 to 332,278 in 2009. With just over 1.2 million abortions performed annually nationwide, abortions done in Planned Parenthood clinics account for more than 25% of the national total.

“Using the average estimates for the cost of a first-trimester abortion ($451), Planned Parenthood clinics derived more than one-third ($149.9 million) of their reported $404.9 million in income from abortions in 2008-2009,” National Right to Life President Carol Tobias noted.

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