Monday, 27 June 2011

WI Cuts Planned Parenthood Funds Judge Rules Against Indiana Law

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Even as conservative Governors and state lawmakers target Planned Parenthood’s lucrative abortion franchise for elimination, activist judges are working diligently to make sure the group’s deadly business continues. On June 26, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (pictured, left) signed a state budget that cuts a $3 billion shortfall (without raising taxes) by, among other things, cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. But on the same day Wisconsin became the fourth state to defund the “family planning” organization (following the lead of Kansas, Indiana, and North Carolina), a federal judge temporarily blocked the Indiana de-funding law as unconstitutional.

Predictably, Planned Parenthood expressed its outrage over the funding cuts in Wisconsin, insisting that they will hurt low-income individuals who have no health insurance by denying them such services as cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and birth control.

Teri Huyck, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said it was “greatly disturbing” that political ideals would trump “our shared responsibility to make sure women and men have access to preventive reproductive health care, which is not only essential for their own lives, but also a cost-saver for all Wisconsin taxpayers.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Wisconsin Department of Health reported that the state’s BadgerCare health plan, from which the Planned Parenthood cuts will come, saves the state some $140 million per year. “It is outrageous that Governor Walker would take away health care from thousands of women and families in Wisconsin,” pined Planned Parenthood’s national president, Cecile Richards.

But Marjorie Dannenfelser of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List called it “a great day for the pro-life cause,” noting that pro-life activists had been working with state legislators “to ensure that Wisconsin taxpayers are no longer forced to subsidize Planned Parenthood.”

Pro-life leaders have noted that Planned Parenthood could retain its funding for non-abortion “family planning” services if it would simply divest itself of the murderous portion of its business, something the organization has steadfastly refused to do. Julaine Appling of the pro-life group Wisconsin Family Action conceded that under current law Planned Parenthood is within its rights to perform abortions. But, she added, “we don’t have to use taxpayer money to do that.”

The state’s $66 billion budget, which the GOP-controlled legislature passed June 16, includes a only $1 million in cuts to Planned Parenthood, which will affect nine of the group’s 27 clinics. Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman was disappointed that they weren’t able to take a bigger cut out of the abortion provider’s account. “There’s a very ugly side to this organization, and I regret that they’re going to take such a tiny cut in this budget,” Grothman said.

Matt Sande of Pro-Life Wisconsin explained that the funding taken from Planned Parenthood will go to public health departments, who will in turn be prohibited “from allocating any of the funds to organizations or their affiliates [that] perform or refer for abortion.”

Another pro-life provision of the budget bans the University of Wisconsin hospital system from paying medical residents for abortion training. Sande told OneNewsNow that the university’s medical school has “four two-week rotations for the medical residents in the OB-GYN department to go to the Planned Parenthood facility, the abortion mill in Madison, to train to do abortions. Obviously, that’s reprehensible. And to add insult to injury, they’re using state funds to do it.”

But even as Governor Walker signed the budget bill cutting such funding in Wisconsin, a federal judge in Indiana temporarily stopped enforcement of that state’s recently passed law stripping Planned Parenthood of Medicaid money.

U.S. District Judge Tonya Walton Pratt “found that there was merit to Indiana Planned Parenthood’s argument that the new law violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law,” reported the National Journal. “She told Indiana to hold off on its decision to take funds away from Planned Parenthood while the case moves forward in court.”

Donald Berwick of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had earlier said that his agency could not endorse the law because it restricted individuals from a range of “family planning” services.

Noting that the Obama administration had threatened to pull billions of dollars in federal funding from Indiana because of the law, Pratt said that not blocking the law “could pit the federal government against the state of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse. If dogma trumps pragmatism and neither side budges, Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens could end up paying the price as the collateral damage of a partisan battle.”

Judge Pratt also blocked the law’s stipulation that abortionists inform women considering the procedure that their unborn child will feel pain as early as 20 weeks into pregnancy.

Ken Falk of Indiana’s ACLU, which is representing Planned Parenthood, predicted a “long legal battle,” adding, “We are encouraged by the judge’s ruling but know we have a very long way to go before we can ultimately declare victory.” For the state’s part, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said that he would “thoroughly review the ruling,” and most likely “the State of Indiana will seek an ... appeal” to the judge’s decision.

Mike Fichter, president of Indiana Right to Life, said that he was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling, noting that it will re-open “the pipeline for our tax dollars to flow back into the hands of Indiana’s largest abortion provider” and deny “women seeking abortions the right to know about an unborn child’s ability to feel pain.”

While he felt confident that the law would ultimately be re-implemented, he added that “it is troubling to know that in the meantime, Indiana is being forced to subsidize a business that profits from over 5,500 abortions every year and women are being denied key information they deserve.” recalled that in 2008, Planned Parenthood of Indiana “suspended an employee after a video showed the staffer covering up a girl’s statutory rape. The video was a part of an earlier series of undercover investigations Live Action performed with a UCLA student, Lila Rose, posing as a 13-year-old girl who had sexual relations with a 31-year-old man.”

The video showed the employee acknowledging her responsibility to report the rape, but assuring Rose that she would not.

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