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Indiana to block funding for Planned Parenthood

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 29, 2011 | 7:18 pm

The GOP congressional effort to stop federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood failed (for now), but Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels vowed today to sign a bill that will halt about $2 million in federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood in his state.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Apart from eliminating the group’s funding, the bill includes other requirements that would give Indiana some of the strictest abortion laws in the country. The restrictions include a ban on the procedure following the 20th week of pregnancy unless the woman’s life is in jeopardy and requiring abortion providers to tell women seeking abortions that life begins at conception, that the procedure is linked to infertility, and that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks or earlier.

In a statement, Daniels said he plans to sign the bill in “a week or so from now” when it reaches his desk.

But legal questions remain, primarily because the law would deny the use of Medicaid at Planned Parenthood. “Medicaid law is pretty clear: You cannot unplug a provider because they’re providing a constitutionally protected service,” says Betty Cockrum, executive director Planned Parenthood’s Indiana chapter.

She says the organization plans legal action and is even looking into the possibility of filing a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the bill before it is officially signed by Daniels. Ms. Cockrum says making the bill law will constitute an unlawful act.

No real surprise from Planned Parenthood. The question is: What would the courts do with this type of restriction on abortion?

States are allowed to add restrictions to abortions—like waiting periods—but those restrictions can’t be so burdensome as to make abortion infeasible. (i.e. charging abortion doctors such exorbitant licensing fees that no one in the state would offer abortions and so women in some communities would have to drive hundreds of miles across state lines to see a doctor who would perform an abortion.) I doubt this halting of federal funding is going to put Planned Parenthood out of business. But we’ll see what they argue.

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