Alabama Drops Campaign to Defund Planned Parenthood Clinics

Updated on
  • State's cutting off funds was found unjustified by U.S. judge
  • Governor had seen video released by anti-abortion activists

Alabama agreed to drop its plan to sever Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding after state officials failed to convince a federal judge they had a valid reason for the cutbacks and clinic leaders said they would continue abiding by all laws regarding fetal tissue handling.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ordered Alabama in October to keep public funds flowing to the clinics after he ruled that state officials’ outrage over controversial undercover videos released by anti-abortion activists didn’t justify kicking Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid. The videos contain accusations that Planned Parenthood clinics in other states engaged in unethical conduct involving the alleged illegal sales of fetal tissue.

Thompson said he wouldn’t rely on the videotapes, which Planned Parenthood has repeatedly denounced as deceptively edited, because the Alabama clinics don’t participate in fetal-tissue donation programs “and never have.” He also said federal Medicaid rules require proof of wrongdoing before a provider can be ejected from the program, and Planned Parenthood’s two Alabama clinics have no violations.

Alabama agreed to pay $51,000 in legal fees and expenses the clinics ran up in fighting the defunding campaign, according to a joint filing Monday in federal court in Montgomery.

Planned Parenthood is fighting Republican-led efforts to rip up its Medicaid contracts in at least five states, including a Texas lawsuit filed last week. So far, the clinics have won court orders at least temporarily continuing the flow of funds in four of these challenges.

Nine states have cleared the clinics of any wrongdoing in connection with Planned Parenthood’s limited fetal-tissue donation program. Seven other states have declined to investigate the claims in the videos.

The case is Planned Parenthood Southeast v. Bentley, 2:15-cv-00620, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama (Montgomery).