Federal Judge Bans State From Defunding Planned Parenthood

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Thursday that temporarily bans Arkansas from not allowing Medicaid funds to be used for Planned Parenthood services.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker’s order prevents Arkansas from denying Medicaid funding to the clinics until a lawsuit on the matter has been settled, reports the Times Record.

“This is a win for the Arkansans who rely on Planned Parenthood of the Heartland for birth control, cancer screenings and other essential health care,” Planned Parenthood declared Thursday.

Baker, nominated by President Barack Obama, previously struck down Arkansas’s same sex marriage ban in 2014. In her ruling, Baker said the ban violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Judge Baker ordered the state last year to continue paying for Planned Parenthood services for three women. Last year, Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared that Arkansas would no longer provide funding for the clinics because of undercover videos that showed Planned Parenthood harvesting and distributing fetal tissue.

Planned Parenthood filed for an injunction in March asking the judge to expand her order to  include any patients who want Medicaid to pay for their services.

Planned Parenthood argued that the state defunding the clinics went against federal law. Arkansas claimed that it had a right to do so because the videos brought up concerns with the organization’s ethics.

Baker ruled that future patients on Medicaid would be negatively affected by Arkansas’ stance.

“Should the court fail to issue injunctive relief, members of the patient class will be denied their choice of provider for family planning services,” Judge Baker wrote in her ruling.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge expressed her displeasure with Judge Baker’s order.

“Her order unfortunately allows Planned Parenthood to continue to use its patients to pad its bottom line at taxpayers’ expense. Thankfully, the ultimate issues in this case will be decided by the Court of Appeals,” Rutledge said in a statement.

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