- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s attorney general on Tuesday appealed a judge’s ruling that blocked key aspects of a new state law that would cut public funding for Planned Parenthood’s general health services because the organization also provides abortions.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed the appeal with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, a move that was expected after U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued a preliminary injunction Friday blocking parts of the new law. Mr. Zoeller said his office would file its legal arguments on the appeal later.

Planned Parenthood had gone without Medicaid funding since May 10, when Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law that cut off about $1.4 million and made Indiana the first state to deny the organization Medicaid funds for services such as breast exams and Pap tests.

Planned Parenthood, which serves about 9,300 Indiana clients on the state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people, was forced to stop seeing Medicaid patients last week after private donations that had paid those patients’ bills ran out. It resumed seeing them after Judge Pratt issued her ruling.

The appeals court in Chicago will likely end up hearing the state’s separate but related appeal of Medicaid Administrator Donald Berwick’s June 1 decision rejecting changes the new law would have made to Indiana’s Medicaid plan, Mr. Zoeller told the Associated Press. Mr. Berwick contends that Medicaid clients can obtain services from any qualified provider, including those that provide abortions, and the case will likely go to the Chicago appeals court if the two sides can’t compromise, the attorney general said.

“There is this process between the federal and state governments which is the proper process by which these things are resolved,” Mr. Zoeller said.

Planned Parenthood attorney Ken Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union predicted his client will eventually prevail.

“We believe that the provisions enjoined by the District Court were correctly enjoined and we do not believe the Seventh Circuit will find otherwise,” he said in an email message after Mr. Zoeller filed the notice of appeal.

Abortion rights advocates are also pushing back against new restrictions in Kansas, where two doctors filed a federal lawsuit in Topeka on Tuesday to block a new licensing law and regulations that could make Kansas the first state in the country without an abortion provider.

Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser, argue that the new licensing process for abortion providers is a “sham” and the law and accompanying regulations are designed to stop the state’s three abortion providers. One provider has already been denied a license.

The two doctors offer abortions and other services at the Center for Women’s Health in Overland Park in suburban Kansas City.

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