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Indiana Planned Parenthood Defunding Withstands Court Test

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May 11 (Bloomberg) -- Indiana’s defunding of Planned Parenthood withstood its first legal test when a federal judge refused to issue a temporary order blocking the new law.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt today denied Planned Parenthood’s request for relief in a lawsuit filed at the U.S. court in Indianapolis after Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed the measure into law yesterday.

It bars state agencies from entering into contracts with or making grants to any entity that performs abortions or maintains a facility where they’re performed.

“While the underlying issues of this case will be argued at a later date, today’s ruling allows the statute the Indiana Legislature passed to remain in effect,” state Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.

“The legislation has generated strong emotions on all sides, and my office will provide a vigorous legal defense for the statute,” he said. It is the attorney general’s duty to defend in court the constitutionality of any Indiana statute, Zoeller said.

In a four-page order denying the bid for a temporary order, Walton Pratt said she wasn’t persuaded that the new law “will have a concrete and immediate effect that would warrant the extraordinary remedy” of enjoining it before the state has a chance to fully contest the issues raised by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing Planned Parenthood, argues that the law violates the constitutional rights of health-care providers and endangers patients.

‘Deeply Disappointed’

“We are deeply disappointed that the judge decided not to stop this unconscionable law from impacting Hoosiers seeking preventive, reproductive health care,” said Indiana Planned Parenthood Chief Executive Officer Betty Cockrum said in a press statement, identifying Indiana’s citizens by their state-sanctioned moniker.

“The ruling means that Hoosiers who rely on federal funding have lost access to their crucial and lifesaving preventive health care at Planned Parenthood of Indiana,” Cockrum said.

Planned Parenthood is the largest entity affected by the legislation, the ACLU told the court yesterday in a brief filed in support of the temporary injunction denied today.

Contracts Canceled

The legislation forced the cancellation of contracts under which the organization received funding through the joint state-federal Medicaid program to provide basic health services and family planning guidance, according to the brief.

“None of these services has anything to do with abortions,” according to the ACLU’s brief.

Ken Falk, legal director for the ACLU of Indiana, didn’t immediately reply to a voice-mail message seeking comment.

The parties are scheduled to return to court on June 6 for oral argument on the ACLU’s motion for a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law.

The case is Planned Parenthood of Indiana Inc. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, 1:11-cv-630, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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