Planned Parenthood Dealt Setback when Governor Signs HB 891

BATON ROUGE – U.S. District Court Judge John DeGravelles of the Middle District of Louisiana sided with the nation’s largest abortion provider in a preliminary ruling issued today, allowing Planned Parenthood to proceed with its attempt to force the Louisiana Department of Health to issue a license to perform abortions in the same New Orleans facility where taxpayer-funded Medicaid family planning services are provided.  

However, by the afternoon Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and its abortion-providing affiliate, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, had been dealt a setback when Gov. John Bel Edwards signed HB 891, which creates a firewall between public funding and abortion by requiring that entities that provide Medicaid family planning services and entities that perform abortion must be “physically and financially separate.”

The new law, authored by Rep. Frank Hoffmann of West Monroe, may moot Planned Parenthood’s challenge by its requirement that the state obtain guidance from the Trump administration’s Center for Medicaid Services before the law goes into effect. Louisiana officials hope for favorable guidance from the federal government on the use of Medicaid funds in light of the administration’s recent announcement of plans to issue a rule requiring a similar firewall for Title X family planning services.

The Attorney General’s briefing in the case revealed that the state Department of Health has neither granted nor denied Planned Parenthood’s request for the abortion license because of pending investigations by Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged criminal activity in the sale of aborted fetal body parts.

The Middle District Court will now have to determine how the new law impacts the current litigation in the case, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc., et al vs. Rebekah Gee.

Dorinda Bordlee, Senior Counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, who provides pro bono legal consultation to legislators around the nation, said, “Louisiana is vigorously defending the legitimate interest of states to place a firewall between tax dollars and abortion.”

Bordlee said the case is at its early stages and could possibly be dismissed in light of HB 891.

Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life, added, “Taxpayers deserve the fiscal integrity measures that prevent their hard earned money from being used take the lives of children and the well-being of of women who suffer the trauma of abortion.

“It’s disappointing that a federal court is trying to usurp the role of the state by allowing Planned Parenthood to misuse the courts for its the purpose of opening a regional abortion business in New Orleans. This is a state issue, and a federal court should not intervene, especially given the Congressional Report that issued criminal referrals regarding unlawful trafficking in aborted body parts.”

Clapper said Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast could choose to continue providing non-abortion women’s health services without fear of losing government funds, but the organization once again showed its overriding desire to put its abortion business first “by running to a federal court in their effort to use tax dollars to subsidize abortion.”