Press advisory: Live Action releases audio of Planned Parenthood of Indiana admitting Medicaid services readily available through other providers

June 29, 2011

 New audio recordings of phone calls placed by the national organization Live Action to multiple Planned Parenthood facilities around Indiana provide clear indication that Medicaid services available at Planned Parenthood offices are available at other Medicaid providers contrary to claims made by opponents of the new Indiana law that denies public funding to businesses that do abortions.  The law is currently enjoined by order of federal judge Tanya Walton Pratt.

According to Live Action, the recordings of the phone calls to Planned Parenthood of Indiana offices occurred while the defunding provision of the Indiana law was in full effect.  Representatives of Planned Parenthood offices in Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Merrillville, and Fort Wayne are heard acknowledging that the same services Medicaid patients might seek from Planned Parenthood are readily available through other sources including primary care physicians.

The recordings can be heard here

“We have consistently stated that Indiana’s new law represents a removal of abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid provider network while preserving all of the Medicaid services that Medicaid patients might seek,” states Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter. “These  recordings remove all doubt that anyone who claims that Indiana’s new law denies or reduces Medicaid benefits is not being truthful.  We are hopeful that this information will undergird Indiana’s defense of HEA 1210 as it moves through the courts and regret that these recordings were not available to Judge Pratt prior to her injunction ruling that forces Indiana to resume public funding for Planned Parenthood.”  

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Truth and Power: Planned Parenthood, HHS, and Indiana Law

June 29, 2011

by Gerard Bradley, Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame and member of the Indiana Right to Life board of directors

 When Republicans win a statehouse, it almost always means that pro-life legislation is coming down the pike. When Democrats win, it never does. The Republican victories last November led to the introduction of several hundred pro-life bills across the nation. Many were enacted into law.

Nowhere did Republicans do more for the unborn this past spring than in Indiana, my home state. The GOP has controlled the state senate here for years, and last fall they took control of the lower house too — prompting, by the way, a five-week Democrat walk-out to Urbana, Illinois. The Republican were nonetheless able to consolidate a flurry of pro-life bills into an omnibus measure. Then they passed it, and Governor Daniels signed it on May 10.

The most important provision of this bill was a comprehensive defunding of Planned Parenthood, the first such measure in the nation. The defunding provision said that any “entity” that performs abortions would be cut off from state funds, including Medicaid funding, even for non-abortion services (pap smears and STD testing, for example). Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) was the principal “entity” affected.

The reasoning behind the defunding law is threefold. First, because PPIN did not strictly segregate its Medicaid receipts, there was no other way for Indiana to avoid violating the Hyde Amendment, which requires states administering Medicaid to make sure that no federal funds go for elective abortions. Second, even if PPIN kept better books, a complete defunding would still be one way to fully comply with Hyde. Otherwise Medicaid payments for non-abortion services would inevitably defray some of the overhead costs of doing abortions. Third, states are constitutionally entitled to value childbirth over abortion, and to morally stigmatize abortion as undesirable and even wrong. (This is the value judgment behind the Hyde Amendment itself.) Eliminating state subsidies to the state’s biggest abortion provider is one important way to express that value judgment.

The defunding provision went into effect immediately. Within minutes (literally), PPIN sued to force continued Medicaid funding. The next day (May 11), federal district judge Tanya Walton Pratt denied PPIN’s request for a temporary restraining order. Late last Friday night, however — and just as PPIN’s donations to continue Medicaid services ran out — Judge Pratt enjoined the defund law. The Medicaid spigot is now back on for PPIN.

Chalk one up for the Obama administration — for it was the Obama administration that effectively decided the case for Judge Pratt. She all but conceded that Indiana (very ably represented in this case by Solicitor General Tom Fisher, working at the direction of Attorney General Greg Zoellers) had the better of the legal argument about the state’s authority to decide who, or what, counts as a “qualified” Medicaid provider. As well Judge Pratt should concede: There is no doubt that Indianan had the better case. What Indiana lacked was political muscle.

The difference-maker was not anything the Indiana Civil Liberties Union lawyer or Planned Parenthood argued. The deciding factor — as, again, Judge Pratt practically conceded — was the intervention of HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Her deputy in charge of Medicaid, Donald Berwick, publicly announced on June 1 (during the pendency of the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunctive relief) that HHS “rejected” Indiana’s law. And this rejection decided the case for Judge Pratt.

This intervention was transparently political. Sebelius (through Berwick) adopted a novel and highly controversial reading of the Medicaid law, an interpretation which seems to be based not in law but on pro-choice ideology. Moreover, HHS’s reasoning in support of this novel conclusion (and Judge Pratt’s reasoning in turn) traffics in familiar emotional totems, as well as the usual freedom-of-choice and not-discriminating-against-a-Medicaid-provider-because-of-the-range-of-services-it-provides rallying cries, all of which are meant to obscure the presence of an unwrapped ukase. Then there’s the timing. Berwick’s intervention hijacked a settled, intricate process whereby disputes of this sort (between a state administrator of Medicaid and the federal manager of Medicaid funds) are vetted and eventually resolved. Just to emphasize the point, the Justice Department intervened too, at the eleventh hour, making plain the administration’s investment in the outcome.

Judge Pratt recognized that Berwick’s intervention was, shall we say, odd and very provisional. But she did not resist it. Truth be told, she did not try to. Judge Pratt wrote: “Even though [Berwick’s] letter was only the opening salvo in a potentially longer battle, it is still binding in the sense that it is the position of the federal government.” Well, sort of: It’s a “position” all right, but what is its legal force, its standing as an authoritative declaration of what the Medicaid law requires? Especially when 28 U.S. senators (including Orrin Hatch and John McCain) have published a letter expressly adopting Indiana’s reading of its authority under the Medicaid statute? It is not binding (Judge Pratt’s emphasis) at all.

Judge Pratt’s reply to this challenge (made in different words by Indiana’s lawyers) was this: “To use a sports metaphor, just because the final buzzer has not yet sounded does not mean the court must avert its eyes from the scoreboard”.

Got that?

Well, the Obama administration got the result it wanted in the PPIN litigation, which is the result its abortion constituency wanted. The Obama administration also provided Judge Pratt the cover she needed to reach the result which, as far as one can tell, she wanted. What no one got in this case was a truly independent judiciary willing to speak truth to power.

Used by permisison.

Blog: wild inaccuracy

June 28, 2011

Rep. Clyde Kersey’s assertion in the June 28 edition of the Tribune-Star that Planned Parenthood is responsible for only 3% of Indiana’s abortions, and that these abortions are done only in Indianapolis, is one more wildly inaccurate claim that somehow seem to slip by even the most basic of fact checks by professional news personnel who should know better. 

According to Planned Parenthood’s own annual report, it did 5,580 surgical and chemical abortions in Indiana in 2010 alone, a figure that amounts to over half of the abortions done in our state.  It also a fact that Planned Parenthood operates three abortion clinics in Indiana including sites in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Merrillville. According to the same annual report, abortions are on the rise at Planned Parenthood with a 2% increase from 2009 to 2010.

HEA 1210 provided Planned Parenthood with the option of discontinuing its abortion operations, or completely separating the abortion side of its business with its other operations, in order to retain eligibility for Medicaid funding, but it refused to do so because the revenue of over $2 million from abortion is central to its business plan.

It is apparent that Rep. Kersey has a complete misunderstanding of the scope of Planned Parenthood’s abortion operations in Indiana.  Kersey, as well as other state legislators who support abortion on demand, might be well-served in future sessions to at least check his facts before voting to force Hoosiers to subsidize Indiana’s largest abortion business with public funding.

Obama-appointed federal judge blocks key provisions of Indiana law

June 25, 2011

Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter issued this statement tonight in the wake of federal judge Tanya Walton Pratt blocking key provisions of Indiana law that deny public funding for abortion businesses and require that women be informed about an unborn child’s ability to feel pain: 

“We are deeply disappointed that today’s ruling brushes aside the will of the Indiana legislature.  This ruling opens the pipeline for our tax dollars to flow back into the hands of Indiana’s largest abortion provider and denies women seeking abortions the right to know about an unborn child’s ability to feel pain. 

We are confident that Indiana’s right to defund Planned Parenthood and to inform women about the facts of fetal pain will eventually be upheld in the courts, but 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.”

Indiana Right to Life does applaud the judge’s denial of Planned Parenthood’s request for an injunction against the informed consent requirement that women must be informed that human physical life begins at fertilization. 

Press advisory: another Obama administration attack on Indiana sovereignty

June 17, 2011

The following statement was issued tonight by Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter in response to an Associated Press report that the U.S. Justice Department filed an after-hours brief tonight urging U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt to grant Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s request for an injunction that will block Indiana from withholding public funds from Indiana’s largest abortion business.

“The Obama administration is once again showing its contempt for Indiana’s sovereignty in managing its Medicaid program by using the Justice Department to ramp up the pressure on the federal judge deciding this key issue, just as it did with the recent letter from the Department of Health and Human Services disapproving of Indiana’s right to defund abortion businesses.  We believe this latest move serves to underscore that abortion is more important to this administration than the sovereignty of Indiana, the intent of the Indiana legislature, and the will of Hoosiers who do not want their tax dollars subsidizing the business of abortion.”

 A ruling on the motion for an injunction is expected by July 1. 

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