Federal Court ruling allowing the case to proceed likely mooted out by HB 891
BATON ROUGE – In a preliminary ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge John DeGravelles of the Middle District of Louisiana sided with the nation’s largest abortion provider by allowing it to proceed with its case attempting to force the Louisiana Department of Health to issue a license to perform abortions in the same New Orleans facility where taxpayer funded Medicaid family planning services are provided.
However, by the afternoon, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and its abortion-providing affiliate, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, were dealt a setback when Governor John Bel Edwards signed HB 891 (Hoffmann, R-W. Monroe). That legislation creates a firewall between public funding and abortion by requiring that entities who provide Medicaid family planning services and entities that perform abortion must be “physically and financially separate.”
The new law may moot Planned Parenthood’s challenge by its requirement that the State obtain guidance from the Trump administration’s Center for Medicaid Services before the law goes into effect. Louisiana is hopeful for favorable guidance from the federal government on Medicaid funds in light of the administration’s recent announcement of plans to issue a rule requiring a similar firewall for Title X family planning services.
The Attorney General’s briefing in the case revealed that the Louisiana Department of Health has neither granted nor denied Planned Parenthood’s request for the abortion license because of the pending investigations by Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged criminal activity in the sale of aborted fetal body parts.
The Middle District Court will now have to determine how the new law impacts the current litigation in the case entitled Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc., et al vs. Rebekah Gee.
Dorinda Bordlee, Senior Counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, who provides pro bono legal consultation to legislators around the nation said, “Louisiana is vigorously defending the legitimate interest of States to place a firewall between tax dollars and abortion.” Bordlee said that the case is at its early stages and could possibly be dismissed in light of HB 891.
Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life, said, “Taxpayers deserve the fiscal integrity measures that prevent their hard earned money from being used take the lives of children and the well-being of of women who suffer the trauma of abortion.”
Clapper continued, “It is disappointing that a federal court is trying to usurp the role of the State by allowing Planned Parenthood to misuse the courts for its the purpose of opening a regional abortion business in New Orleans. This is a state issue, and a federal court should not intervene, especially given the Congressional Report that issued criminal referrals regarding unlawful trafficking in aborted body parts.”
Clapper added that “PPGC could choose to continue to provide their non-abortion women’s health services without any fear of losing government funds, but they once again show their overriding desire to put their abortion business first by running to a federal court in their effort to use tax dollars to subsidize abortion.”