Mississippi Judge Sides With Planned Parenthood Over 'Unacceptable' Funding Law

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Mississippi Judge Sides With Planned Parenthood Over 'Unacceptable' Funding Law

"While legislators play politics with women's health, we will continue to stand by Mississippi women and families," group's regional president said

"Yet another court has said it is unacceptable for politicians to dictate where women can go for their health care." (Photo: PBS NewsHour/flickr/cc)

A federal judge on Thursday ruled in favor of women's rights, blocking a Mississippi law that prohibited state Medicaid funds from going to organizations that provide abortions.

U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed by two Planned Parenthood affiliates, citing a similar case in Louisiana and other states writing, "essentially every court to consider similar laws has found that they violate" federal choice-of-provider law.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards praised the ruling, stating, "Yet another court has said it is unacceptable for politicians to dictate where women can go for their healthcare. Planned Parenthood will fight for our patients at every turn."

It's the latest in a series of rulings that have sided with women's rights and healthcare access around the country and precedes a planned legislative push to repeal the "detrimental and deeply unjust" Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funding of abortions.

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The lawsuit was filed in June, weeks before the law took effect. As the Associated Press notes, neither affiliate conducts abortions in Mississippi, but Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region says it provides them in Memphis, Tennessee, and Planned Parenthood Southeast offers them in its Alabama and Georgia clinics.

Mississippi Medicaid records show $439 went to the Hattiesburg, Mississippi Planned Parenthood between July 2013 and August 2015, the AP reported.

In April, the director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent a letter to its state chapters warning them that they cannot cut funding to medical providers on the basis that they provide abortions. Even still, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the bill into law in July instructing them to do exactly that.

Planned Parenthood Southeast on Thursday celebrated the ruling, saying it protects patients' access to life-saving services like cancer screenings, birth control, and other care. The chapter's president and CEO Staci Fox said, "Everyone deserves access to high-quality health care, no matter who you are or where you live. While legislators play politics with women's health, we will continue to stand by Mississippi women and families."

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