On Wednesday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Arkansas can withhold Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood in a 2-1 decision. The state has been trying to defund the women’s health care provider using this particular tactic since 2015.
“The decision marks a major departure from court precedent on this and may have set up the issue of Planned Parenthood defunding for a possible Supreme Court challenge,” says Levintova.
“This is a surprising decision,” Mara Gandal-Powers, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center told Mother Jones. “This is not where the other circuits have come out on this issue, and it’s certainly not what the Medicaid law intends or says.”
Until now, state efforts to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood have been consistently thwarted by the courts — including decisions issued by the 5th, 7th, and 9th circuits as well as numerous district courts, notes Levintova.
Since January, the Trump administration has tried and failed several times to defund Planned Parenthood but for the first time, the 8th Circuit’s “decision diverged from this long-accepted legal interpretation by calling into question a Medicaid recipient’s right to choose any provider.”