The Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) blocked a lower court ruling preventing South Carolina from defunding Planned Parenthood and sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration.
The SCOTUS justices ruled Tuesday to send Kerr v. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic case back to the lower court in the wake of the 7-2 ruling June 8, allowing Medicaid recipients to sue for civil rights violations, Reuters reported. (RELATED: Supreme Court Rules 8-1 Against Union Bosses Seeking To Dodge Liability For Property Damage)
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The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Richmond, Virginia, prevented South Carolina from ending public funding for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic under Medicaid because the organization delivers abortions services, in a March 2022 ruling.
“At the outset of this litigation, the district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing South Carolina from terminating Planned Parenthood’s provider agreement. We affirmed its decision then. South Carolina now returns to our court to appeal the district court’s subsequent permanent injunction,” Reagan-appointed U.S. Circuit Court Judge Harvie Wilkinson wrote, according to Courthouse News.
“In sum we refuse to nullify Congress’s undeniable desire to extend a choice of medical providers to the less fortunate among us, individuals who experience the same medical problems as the more fortunate in society but who lack under their own means the same freedom to choose their healthcare provider,” he added.
Wilkinson and two other judges ruled unanimously that South Carolina’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood violated Medicaid patient Julie Edwards’ right to choose her Medicaid provider. The ruling upheld a permanent injunction by Obama-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lewis.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a Medicaid patient sued the state in 2018 after Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill removing the abortion provider from the state’s Medicaid program. Robert Kerr, South Carolina’s director of Health and Human Services, is the opponent in Planned Parenthood’s case because he oversees the state’s Medicaid funds.
Planned Parenthood is fighting South Carolina’s six-week abortion ban signed in May 2022 when the Supreme Court was preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Health case, allowing states to decide on whether abortion should be legalized. The organization has also called for court packing and term limits for SCOTUS appointees.
A South Carolina judge blocked the state’s abortion ban shortly after it was enacted and the state subsequently appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court.