Planned Parenthood filing second lawsuit to protect state funding

Planned Parenthood filing second lawsuit to protect state funding
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Planned Parenthood is planning to file a lawsuit against a second state next week as part of a coordinated national effort to protect its funding.

The group is suing Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R), who has taken steps to block all state Medicaid funding in light of the fetal tissue video controversy. Planned Parenthood is filing the lawsuit in a joint effort with the American Civil Liberties Union.

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“Governor Bentley is trying to dictate where a woman can go for contraception and other preventive care if she’s enrolled in Medicaid,” Staci Fox, who leads Planned Parenthood Southeast, wrote in a statement. “Meanwhile, Alabama is dealing with some of the nation’s worst health outcomes, and restricting access to providers will do nothing to help the urgent problems we face.”

The lawsuit will be Planned Parenthood’s second legal move in response to the undercover video controversy spurred by anti-abortion-rights activists this summer. The group announced earlier this week that it would sue Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who took the same step as Bentley to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood services.

The Obama administration has already warned the move by Alabama and Louisiana would be illegal because Medicaid enrollees are entitled to the healthcare provider of their choice.

Shortly after the Louisiana and Alabama governors announced their plans, they were contacted by the federal agency that runs Medicaid. Both were notified that they “may be in conflict with federal law,” Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Ben Wakana said in a statement.

But Jindal, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, has already pledged to stand his ground and allow the battle to play out in court – potentially dragging out the controversy for months.

Meanwhile, the threat to Planned Parenthood’s state and federal funding grows as more videos are released.

The man behind the videos, David Daleiden, said this week that he has as many as four videos left. If they are released weekly, that would drag the controversy into the center of the federal government’s funding fight.

Several Republicans, led by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzLawmakers spar over surveillance flight treaty with Russia Senators voice support for Iran protesters but stop short of taking action Prisons chief: FBI investigating whether 'criminal enterprise' played role in Epstein death MORE (R-Texas), are already threatening a government shutdown if GOP leaders do not defund Planned Parenthood through the budget process. The group receives about $500 million a year from the government, making up about 40 percent of its budget. Under current law, none of those funds can be used for abortions.

Planned Parenthood has also said it is considering legal action to stop the videos about the health provider's handling of fetal tissue, accusing the group behind them of illegally recording their footage.

“There’s nothing off the table at all. Already, cases have been filed by others about conspiracy and fraud and certainly Planned Parenthood preserves the right, given this information, to pursue that as well,” the group’s executive vice president Dawn Laguens told reporters this week.