On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson blocked Kansas right-wing Governor Sam Brownback’s move to restrict women’s rights by removing Planned Parenthood from the state’s low-income health insurance coverage.
According to The Huffington Post, Judge Robinson issued a 54-page order for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, denying the state’s decision to cancel Medicaid agreements with Planned Parenthood. Currently, the state has contracts with Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM) and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (PPSLR).
In the order, Judge Robinson wrote:
‘Medicaid patients have the explicit right to seek family planning services from the qualified provider of their choice.
‘It is uncontroverted that PPKM and PPSLR serve hundreds of underprivileged women in the state of Kansas. It is in the public interest to allow these individuals to be treated by the qualified provider of their choice, and to have that provider reimbursed under Medicaid pending a trial on the merits in this case.’
Planned Parenthood covers a number of healthcare services for women, especially those with reduced means to pay for medical care. Although federal law prohibits the use of Medicaid funds for abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk, Planned Parenthood mainly provides low-cost gynecological exams, breast cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and access to birth control and family planning services. In fact, Planned Parenthood estimates that only 3 percent of its services are for abortions, and that the organization helps to prevent as many as 579,000 unintended pregnancies every year.
Back in January, Republican Governor Brownback ordered funding for Planned Parenthood and any affiliates be cut from the state Medicaid program. The Washington Times quoted a Facebook post by Brownback from January that read:
‘Trafficking of #babybodyparts is antithetical to our belief in human dignity. no more Kansas Medicaid dollars will go to Planned Parenthood.’
According to Kansas public radio station KCUR, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment gave three grounds for terminating the funding in a letter issued May 2016. The first was based on the fraudulent videos that showed other Planned Parenthood clinics engaging in the illegal sale of fetal tissue.
However, the fake videos were debunked eight months prior to the department’s letter announcing their intention. The perpetrators of the faked videos admitted culpability in September 2015 in an interview with CNN.
And despite the fact that a grand jury indicted those responsible for the fraud on felony charges less than two weeks after Brownback’s announcement in January, Brownback continued to forward his agenda to remove women’s rights to seek an abortion in Kansas.
Spokeswoman for Brownback, Eileen Hawley, told KCUR that the right-wing governor is not ready to drop his fight against women’s rights to reproductive autonomy, despite Judge Robinson’s ruling:
‘The governor is going to continue the fight to make Kansas a pro-life state. You know, this is a preliminary ruling. we need to look at the ruling more closely, but our intent is to move forward with the litigation.’
Following Judge Robinson’s decision, Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, released a statement:
‘We promised to fight Gov. Brownback’s fool’s errand in his attempt to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, and today marks one more step forward in defending access for patients.
‘While Gov. Brownback continues touting baseless accusations and wasting taxpayer dollars on frivolous lawsuits, Planned Parenthood refuses to allow politics to get in the way of access to healthcare.’
Judge Robinson’s ruling was made a little more than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court found that Texas’ restrictions on abortion clinics resulted in “undue burden.” It is expected that there will be many more lawsuits going to federal court over recently instituted restrictions and obstructions on women’s rights for reproductive autonomy in several states, including adjacent Missouri.
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