Judge blocks Mississippi law defunding Planned Parenthood

Judge blocks Mississippi law defunding Planned Parenthood
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A federal judge handed a victory to Planned Parenthood on Thursday in blocking a Mississippi law that banned the state's Medicaid program from spending money on healthcare providers that offer abortions.

Mississippi was one of around two dozen states to pass legislation restricting funding for Planned Parenthood in the wake of controversy last year over viral videos targeting the group. The law went into effect in July.

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Planned Parenthood alleged in a lawsuit filed against the state this summer that Mississippi was violating federal law because Medicaid enrollees are legally allowed to seek care from a provider of their choice.

Gov. Phil Bryant (R) expressed disappointment with the Thursday ruling, saying, “I believe the law was the right thing to do and I will continue to stand with the legislature and people of Mississippi who do not want their hard-earned money going to the largest abortion provider in the nation."

Bryant and other Republicans cited Planned Parenthood’s role in abortions, though neither of the group’s two affiliates in Mississippi perform abortions.

The Obama administration had already warned that attempts by states to defund the group violated federal law.

Federal courts have agreed, with Planned Parenthood securing similar victories in Kansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Alabama and Arkansas.

“Yet another court has said it is unacceptable for politicians to dictate where women can go for their health care,” Cecile Richards, president of the national organization, said in a statement.

“This case is about the people who rely on us for basic care every day. We will not stand for these attacks on our patient's’ right to health care, and Planned Parenthood will fight for our patients at every turn,” she said.