Arkansas is fighting a federal judge’s decision that the state cannot defund Planned Parenthood by canceling its Medicaid contracts.
The solicitor general of Arkansas announced Monday that he would appeal the judge’s ruling, which was handed down on Friday. The move escalates an ongoing national legal battle over allegations that Planned Parenthood has mishandled aborted fetal tissue.
The judge, Kristine Baker, said the state cannot abruptly end its contract and ordered the state to temporarily pay for the services of three unnamed Arkansas women who signed onto the lawsuit by Planned Parenthood as well as any other Medicaid beneficiaries who would be impacted.
The order will last for two weeks.
Baker cited the state’s lack of evidence that Planned Parenthood performs abortions in Arkansas “from which fetal tissue could be obtained” or that the group “has been cited, reprimanded, or cautioned” by state officials in the past.
The three women were listed in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood as it tries to protect its state funding. Planned Parenthood has sued three states, including Arkansas, for attempting to cancel its Medicaid contracts after a series of undercover videos accused it of wrongdoing. The move by the Arkansas solicitor general could hint at future litigation in other states.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who ordered the defunding of Planned Parenthood, had sharply condemned the judge’s decision on Friday.
“Ethical conduct by Medicaid providers is a relevant factor for the state to consider [in funding],” Hutchinson wrote. “It is disappointing that a judge appointed by President Obama does not give sufficient weight to the morally repugnant conduct of Planned Parenthood displayed in a series of recently released videos."