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Judge Blocks Indiana From Cutting Funds for Planned Parenthood Over Abortions

INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal judge on Friday blocked the parts of Indiana's tough new abortion law that cuts off most of Planned Parenthood's public funding in the state because the organization provides abortions.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted Planned Parenthood's request for an injunction in striking down the law's defunding provision as unconstitutional, and siding with federal Medicaid officials who have said states cannot disqualify Medicaid providers merely because they also offer abortions.

The U.S. Justice Department also had filed a brief siding with Planned Parenthood, with attorneys saying the law restricts Medicaid recipients' freedom to choose their health care provider.

The state had argued that federal law forbids Medicaid to cover abortions in most circumstances and that the program indirectly funds the procedures because the state has said Planned Parenthood's financial statements show it commingles Medicaid funds with other revenues. The state has said the state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people might subsidize some of the overhead costs for space where abortions are performed.

Planned Parenthood's attorney, Ken Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union, has said the law signed May 10 by Gov. Mitch Daniels made Indiana the first state to deny Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood for general health services such as breast exams and Pap tests. It cut off about $1.4 million to Planned Parenthood, which serves about 9,300 clients in Indiana who are on the state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people who receive Medicaid.

A recent federal Medicaid bulletin said states may not exclude qualified health care providers merely because they also provide abortions.

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