Planned Parenthood moved Tuesday to counter state efforts aimed at cutting off its funding by asking a federal judge Tuesday to stop Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal from cancelling its Medicaid contract.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and three clients petitioned the court to grant a preliminary injunction to halt the state Department of Health and Hospital’s move to terminate the contract, which is expected to take effect Sept. 2.
The complaint argues that the cancellation violates federal Medicaid law by preventing its clients “from receiving services from the qualified, willing provider of their choice.”
Louisiana is one of five states that has taken steps to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of explosive undercover videos raising alarm over the organization’s involvement in selling fetal tissue from abortions for medical research.
Planned Parenthood officials have denied any wrongdoing and accused its critics of jeopardizing the health care of its patients. About 5,200 women are served by Planned Parenthood facilities in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
“When Governor Jindal and other politicians try to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding to score political points, what they’re actually doing is ensuring that some women’s cancer will get worse before it’s caught and that HIV and other infections will spread,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement.
Jindal spokesman Mike Reed said the state health department is well within its rights to cancel the contract. The department notified Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast that it would cancel the nearly $300,000 contract on Aug. 3.
“Planned Parenthood is flailing,” Mr. Reed said in an email. “This lawsuit is without merit and the state will aggressively defend our right to cancel the contract.”
“The Medicaid provider contract between the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and Planned Parenthood gives either party the right to cancel the contract at will with a 30-day notice. Governor Jindal and DHH chose to exercise that right to cancel,” he said.
Mr. Jindal has argued that Planned Parenthood “does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life.”
The two clinics do not perform abortions, but the department has raised concerns that Planned Parenthood “could be acting in violation of Louisiana law that states no person or group contracting with the state or receiving government assistance shall require or recommend that any woman have an abortion,” said the governor’s Aug. 3 statement.
“Cancellation of this contract at will does not jeopardize those services in any way as Planned Planned Parenthood is just one of many providers in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas,” said the statement.