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  • Writer's pictureChristina V. Mills

Supreme Court Sides with Planned Parenthood in States Medicaid Fight

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by multiple states regarding their ability to block Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates. This case was not about access to abortion, which is already disallowed under Medicaid except for instances of rape, incest, and situations threatening the life of the mother. Rather, it is about the ability of states to remove Planned Parenthood from its Medicare provider list altogether, preventing individual Medicare recipients from receiving any services from Planned Parenthood whatsoever, ranging from vaccinations, annual health screenings, contraceptive coverage, and screenings for breast and cervical cancer.

Medicare requires that individuals have the freedom to see the provider of their choice, and many states, have already removed Planned Parenthood as an option. And because individuals do not have the right to sue their state after the removal of a provider, many have had their hands tied without access to healthcare and with no recourse. As it stands, 5 courts of appeal have said that Medicare recipients should be able to sue, while 1 has stated they should not.

Where it would have required 4 justices to agree to hear the case, only 3 voted in favor, including Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Justice Gorsuch - leaving the matter in the hands of the states for now.

Even though this  particular fight is not about abortion per se, the continuous and blatant attack against Planned Parenthood is reflective of the GOP's stated mission to restrict women's healthcare rights. Without the ability to ban abortion altogether because of Roe v. Wade, conservatives have taken up the banner of defunding Planned Parenthood in any way possible, and making it as difficult as possible for those who need it the most - those women with little financial resources and often no primary care physician. For many of these women, Planned Parenthood has been their only access to healthcare and contraceptive services.

This ruling comes just over a month after the midterm election in which West Virginia and Alabama passed constitutional amendments outright restricting abortion access. Both states bills had similar language, stating in West Virginia, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion." Alabama's bill went further stating, its support for the "Rights of unborn life" without stating what their definition of unborn life is.  A similar bill was proposed in Oregon that was shot down by 63% voters.

As it stands, Roe v. Wade prevents these bills from having any meaningful effect. However, it appears that states are preparing the battleground in case Roe v. Wade is overturned so that they can eventually criminalize abortion and create further restrictions on women's access to Planned Parenthood as a provider of women's health services. This could have far reaching affects regarding IVF and stem sell research.

Even though this Supreme Court ruling is a small win for Planned Parenthood and their ability to remain as a Medicaid provider, those in favor of women's healthcare rights should be on high alert. The Supreme Court may not have heard today's case, but a the right is already preparing for landmark case. Progressives should as well.


Image by Matt Flores
Image by Juno Jo
Image by Julianna Corbett
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