Supreme Court denies South Carolina effort to revoke Planned Parenthood Medicaid funding

 Supreme Court denies South Carolina effort to revoke Planned Parenthood Medicaid funding

The court, without comment, declined to lift lower courts’ decisions to block an executive order by the state’s governor, Henry McMaster, looking to exclude abortion clinics from serving as family planning providers under Medicaid.

Asserting that “abortion clinics’ primary focus on denying the right to life is contrary to and conflicts with the state’s obligation to protect and preserve that right,” McMaster’s order subsequently deemed them “unqualified to provide family planning services.”

Medicaid funding, however, does not cover abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is at risk, due to the Hyde Amendment dating back to 1976.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and one of its patients, Julie Edwards, sued the state in 2018, arguing that the organization provides “safe, legal abortion outside the Medicaid program” and that the order violated federal law allowing Medicaid recipients to seek care from any qualified provider.

District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis eventually blocked McMaster’s order from taking effect, writing that Planned Parenthood South Atlantic was “professionally competent and is capable of performing family planning services for Medicaid patients” and that federal law “does not permit a State to pass a law deeming a provider unqualified for reasons unrelated to professional competence to perform the services at issue.”

After an appeals court upheld the block in 2019, the state appealed the case to the Supreme Court early this year.

Helene Krasnoff, vice president of public policy litigation and law at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, cheered the organization’s victory on Tuesday but warned of potential decisions in the opposite direction should Barrett be confirmed.

“Today’s Supreme Court order leaves in place a ruling that makes clear what we have long said: blocking people with low incomes from choosing the provider they know and trust is unlawful,” Krasnoff said. “The fact that the court will not hear this case does not alter the frightening reality of what could come if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the high court.”

Jeff Leieritz, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said McMaster’s administration was “disappointed” by the high court’s decision to not take up the case.

Tuesday’s order comes on the heels of another abortion order from the court. On Thursday, the Supreme Court declined to reinstate restrictions for the time being on patients seeking to obtain a drug used for abortions early in pregnancy, marking a temporary victory for abortion rights supporters.

CNN’s Ariane De Vogue contributed to this report.

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