U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Court Affirms Defunding Planned Parenthood

Women have the right to get an abortion anywhere in America, but they may have a hard time paying for one in Arkansas.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said in Does v. Gillespie that Arkansas can kick Planned Parenthood out of its network of Medicaid-approved health providers. Setting up a possible showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Eighth Circuit has changed the abortion litigation landscape.

"The plaintiffs are asserting a right -- the absolute right to a particular provider of their choosing -- that (the law) does not grant them," Judge Steven Colloton wrote for the Eighth Circuit, which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.

Another Trump Win

President Trump signed legislation in April guaranteeing states the right to defund Planned Parenthood, overriding another Obama Administration regulation. That law mandated that "states and localities could not withhold money from a provider for any reason other an inability to provide family planning services."

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the Eighth Circuit ruling "a substantial legal victory for the right of the state to determine whether Medicaid providers are acting in accordance with best practices, and affirms the prerogative of the state to make reasoned judgments on the Medicaid program."

Planned Parenthood said federal courts have blocked similar efforts in Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Reagan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer for the organization, said the battle is not over.

"We will do everything in our power to protect our patients' access to birth control, cancer screenings and other lifesaving care," she said. "Extreme politicians are trying to defund and shut down Planned Parenthood -- and this is not what Americans want."

Fetal Tissue Issue

Anti-abortion activists and others stepped up campaigns against Planned Parenthood after undercover videos showed clinic representatives reportedly selling tissue from aborted fetuses. Half a dozen states enacted policies that prevented Planned Parenthood from getting Medicaid, which resulted in mixed court rulings.

Lawrence Gostin, a law professor at Georgetown, said the Supreme Court may well take up the case if Planned Parenthood appeals. "These are patients that want to access services and otherwise have a right under Medicaid to access those services," he told the Washington Times.

It was a tough month for Planned Parenthood in Arkansas, however. The Eighth Circuit also said the organization didn't prove its case against a state law targeting "miscarriage pills."

Related Resources: