Let states defund Planned Parenthood, Congressmen tell Supreme Court

shutterstock 726187462 Supreme Court of the United States. | Shutterstock

More than 130 members of Congress are asking the Supreme Court to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood.

In an amicus brief filed at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 108 representatives and 29 senators argued that states should have the flexibility to determine qualified Medicaid providers.

They urged the Supreme Court to hear South Carolina's case on barring Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state from receiving Medicaid reimbursements.

Four South Carolina Republican members of Congress led the amicus brief: Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, and Reps. Jeff Duncan and Ralph Norman. In addition, 134 other members signed on.

"This is a battle on two fronts – a fight for the unborn and the conscience of taxpayers, and a fight for states' authority to decide which providers qualify for funds," Rep. Duncan stated on Wednesday.

South Carolina's governor Henry McMaster in 2018 had tried to bar two Planned Parenthood facilities and another abortion clinic from Medicaid funding.

Following McMaster's July, 2018 order, however, a district court judge put an injunction on the order, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction. The case is being appealed to the Supreme Court.

Several pro-life groups supported the brief, including Alliance Defending Freedom, March for Life Action, and National Right to Life.

Although federal policy-the Hyde Amendment-has long prohibited taxpayer funding of elective abortions in Medicaid, Rep. Norman argued that any public funding of Planned Parenthood for services other than abortions still frees up other resources to dedicate to abortions.

"For Planned Parenthood, that means Medicaid reimbursements for approved services would, in part, support the same overhead and broader operational costs that makes their life-ending abortion 'services' possible," Norman said.  

Although Republicans in Congress have tried to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, and President Trump made a campaign promise to that effect in 2016, the Senate failed to do so while Republicans controlled the House in 2017 and 2018.

Planned Parenthood's government funding has actually increased during the Trump administration, according to its 2017-18 and 2018-19 annual reports, after remaining largely stagnant since the 2011 fiscal year. The conservative Heritage Foundation released a report on April 6 showing that Planned Parenthood's government funding had doubled from 2006 to a high of more than $616 million in FY 2019.

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