Victory for Planned Parenthood!

Planned Parenthood Kansas Ruling: Judge Orders State To Resume Funding

BY ROXANA HEGEMAN   08/30/11 07:26 PM ET   AP

WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge ordered Kansas to immediately resume funding a Planned Parenthood chapter on the same quarterly schedule that existed before a new state law stripped it of all federal funding for non-abortion services.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Tuesday rejected the state’s request that it pay Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri monthly and only for services provided.

The judge also declined to order Planned Parenthood to post a bond in the event the state prevailed in the lawsuit.

Planned Parenthood has sued to block a provision of the state budget preventing the organization from receiving any of the state’s share of federal family planning dollars.

Marten wrote in his ruling that the intent of the court’s earlier order was to restore and maintain the prior status quo between the parties, a relationship that was based on quarterly installment payments of the federal money. He said the monthly reimbursement schedule the state wants would have the effect of undermining the clinic’s ability to maintain its current level of services.

Planned Parenthood said last week that it would stop providing services at its clinic in Hays on Friday unless it was told it would soon receive the money. Friday would also have been last day the organization offered a sliding fee scale for low-income patients at its Wichita clinic.

“The court finds no injury to the defendants in maintaining the prior payment schedule, as they will be providing funding in a manner consistent with prior practice between the parties, and to an organization which has consistently provided satisfactory family planning services,” Marten wrote in his ruling.

Even if the court’s Aug. 1 temporary injunction is later overturned or modified, the residents of Hays and Wichita will be best assured of continued family planning services by maintaining the status quo, the judge said.

Planned Parenthood has argued that if it lost the $330,000 a year in Title X funding it would be forced to close its clinic in the western Kansas city of Hays. It contended its 5,700 patients who go to its Wichita and Hays clinics would face higher costs, longer wait or travel times for appointments and have less access to services.

No federal money goes to abortions. At issue in the lawsuit are Title X funds to help low-income individuals with reproductive health care services such as birth control, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

The clinic had argued that Marten’s initial injunction required the state to maintain “the status quo” which would mean quarterly payments beginning in July at the start of the state’s fiscal year.

Planned Parenthood President and CEO Peter Brownlie said he was pleased and cautiously optimistic that his group would hear from the state by Wednesday a definitive date when KDHE would resume its funding, as it has been ordered for a month now.

“I can’t imagine that the state would continue to defy a federal court order,” Brownlie said. “I am hopeful that it will do the right thing and resume the funding.”

Neither the Kansas attorney general’s office nor KDHE immediately returned calls for comment.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a new state law which requires Kansas to allocate federal family planning dollars first to public health departments and hospitals, leaving no money for Planned Parenthood or similar groups.

Poehler Defends Planned Parenthood

Check out this e-mail that Amy Poehler sent to Planned Parenthood supporters nationwide.  One of my favorite comedians supporting an important organization!

Hi ____,

You know who is awesome? Cecile Richards. She’s the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She’s smart, she’s tough, and she’s totally dedicated to fighting for women’s health. And you know who else totally rules? Every single doctor and nurse and receptionist and volunteer who shows up at a Planned Parenthood health center to make sure that every person who walks through their door gets the care they need.

And when it comes to Planned Parenthood, there’s one more group of people who are really, truly, no-kidding awesome: the members who give money and time to make it all possible. I should know. I’m one of them.

You should be, too. In fact, you should stop reading this email right now and click here to become a Planned Parenthood Federation of America member like me this very second. Helping Planned Parenthood help women is always a good thing, but right now it’s even better because some very generous donors will make a $50 gift to Planned Parenthood Federation of America for every new member who pledges at least $5 per month (but only until June 30, so do it now).

You get these emails, you pay attention — you already know how important Planned Parenthood is. But now is an especially important time to give and become a member. Pledge $5 right now (more if you can afford it!), and you’ll generate an immediate $50 gift to Planned Parenthood. There’s no better way to have an impact for women’s health than being a member — and right now is the best time to give.

Admit it, that’s pretty convincing. You know it’s time to reach for that credit card and make your donation. But if you’re still not sold, think back to the first time you went to a Planned Parenthood health center, scared or broke or confused or hopeful. Think about your friends, or your sister, or your daughter, son, niece, or nephew. Think about every person out there who has nowhere else to go, nobody else to count on, nobody but Planned Parenthood.

It’s up to us to make sure Planned Parenthood is strong enough to protect their rights and their health. Especially because we are having a moment right now when people are trying to come up with new ways to make the lives of all the folks who rely on Planned Parenthood pretty difficult. What makes it possible for Planned Parenthood to make a real, irreplaceable difference for those folks are members like me — and hopefully you.

So why are you still reading? You should be click-click-clicking right here to become a member!

Thanks for reading this, thanks for joining or renewing, thanks for sticking with the incredible people at this incredible organization, and thanks for joining me in saying that Planned Parenthood is awesome!

Sincerely,

Amy Poehler

Victory!

Planned Parenthood Wins First Victory Against Defunding Laws

Planned Parenthood

First Posted: Huffington Post 06/27/11 04:33 PM ET Updated: 06/27/11 04:42 PM ET

Four states have passed legislation defunding Planned Parenthood so far this year, but the family planning provider is not going down without a fight. A federal judge in Indiana sided with Planned Parenthood against the defunding law on Friday, blocking its implementation, and now the legal battle is moving to Kansas.

After a month of court hearings, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt decided to grant a preliminary injunction against a new law that blocks Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) from participating in the Medicaid program. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services already denounced the defunding law in a letter issued earlier this month because the proposed change violates federal Medicaid rules by denying Medicaid patients the freedom to choose a qualified provider.

Pratt said the Health Department’s disapproval of the new law, which could jeopardize all $4 million of Indiana’s federal planning money, weighed heavily on her decision.

“Denying the injunction could pit the federal government against the State of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse,” she told the court. “And 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. With this backdrop in mind, along with the reasons discussed above, the Court believes the most prudent course of action is to enjoin the defunding provision while the judicial process runs its course.”

As a result of the injunction, PPIN will immediately resume serving its Medicaid patients, many of whom had been using it as their primary health provider.

“This decision will have immediate, positive consequences for our patients and our organization,” PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum said in a statement. “This ruling allows us to resume providing Pap tests, breast exams, STD testing and treatment and birth control to both existing and new Medicaid patients.”

Planned Parenthood said its victories in court and with the federal government bode well for the legal battles it plans to fight in other states. The Kansas-based chapter filed a lawsuit in federal district court on Monday that seeks to block the enforcement of a defunding amendment recently passed by the Kansas legislature. Unlike the Indiana law, the Kansas law cuts off all Title X funding to Planned Parenthood, so that it will no longer be able to provide family planning and preventive health care services on a sliding-fee scale to more than 5,700 low-income patients.

A staff attorney for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said the law “impermissibly penalizes” Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortion services, even though Title X family planning funds are already prohibited from paying for abortions. The defunding amendment also unfairly punishes low-income and uninsured patients by restricting their ability to choose a health provider.

“It’s disappointing that instead of focusing on expanding family planning and sex education programs, we are once again having to spend time responding to politically-motivated health care attacks,” said Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. “Planned Parenthood will continue to stand up for Kansans’ right to access affordable, quality reproductive health care.”

Planned Parenthood is also considering legal action in Wisconsin and North Carolina, the third and fourth states to pass defunding laws this year.

Maddow, Planned Parenthood, and Medicaid

Since losing funding in states such as Indiana, Planned Parenthood has had to make some difficult decisions, one of which has been to cease to cover Medicaid patients.  Without federal funding, Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) has been covering Medicaid patient services through private funds.  Unfortunately, they are running out of donations to continue to cover these services, and therefore Medicaid recipients will need to find a new health care provider.  Which options are they left with?  “A Salvation Army addiction center, a homeless shelter, several mental health centers, a juvenile detention center and the Indiana Women’s Prison.”

The home page of Planned Parenthood of Indiana now reads: “Beginning Tuesday, all Medicaid patients will need to pay for their own care or access other funding to be seen at Planned Parenthood of Indiana health centers. On Wednesday, June 22, all health centers will be closed, except Indianapolis – Georgetown, which will be closed Thursday, June 23. All health centers will reopen with normal hours the following day.”

The Maddow Blog reports that: “Well over a month after being defunded by the state, Planned Parenthood of Indiana has figured out a way to avoid shutting down any of its health centers — yet. By making some “difficult decisions,” including laying off two employees, furloughing almost everyone else and closing all of their health centers for a day, and no longer covering Medicaid patients through private funds, they’ll be able to stay operational until a judge’s ruling, expected by July 1, on whether their funding should be restored while they challenge the new law in court.”

Read the entire post, and watch Maddow’s interview with PPIN’s CEO & President, here.

Mitt Romney’s Reasoning

Here is a post on the National Review by Mitt Romney himself regarding his refusal to sign the Susan B. Anthony List’s Pro-Life Presidential Pledge circulated among GOP Presidential Candidates.  His reasoning is simple: Romney believes that “abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother,” which this pledge does not leave room for.  However, he also believes that federal funding should be stripped from organizations such as Planned Parenthood, “which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services.”

First of all, to the GOP Presidential Candidates that signed on to this pledge: how can you be pro-life and not believe that the life of the mother is equally valuable?  Furthermore, why is quality of life not important?  Surely you cannot believe that the eleven year old girl who is raped by her father and is forced to give birth to the child that is conceived is going to have the same quality of life as a child born to two consenting adults.  Apparently if you are riding the Susan B. Anthony List bandwagon, you either believe this or do not believe that quality of life has a role in this argument.

Second, hasn’t this misconception about organizations like Planned Parenthood been resolved?  Did you miss the infamous Jon Kyl (AZ) incident in which he reported on the Senate floor that “well over” 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does is perform abortions?  The real number is about 3%.  First grade math will tell us that this leaves 97% of other services that Planned Parenthood offers that have nothing to do with abortions.  Glad we cleared that up.

Third, why is this even an argument?  Women should be able to choose what they do with their bodies.  Women are competent enough to make decisions for themselves regarding their bodies.  Trust me, women are not using abortion as birth control.  There are not mad women running around getting pregnant just so they can get an abortion.  Those that have to make the decision are doing so after giving great thought to the circumstances surrounding their pregnancy.  If you haven’t already, check out Representative Jackie Speier’s (CA) testimony on the House floor regarding her personal experience with making the very difficult decision regarding abortion.