In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case which would allow states to block the use of Medicaid for healthcare services at Planned Parenthood. The decision is a blow to conservative lawmakers who've tried to defund the organization and other abortion providers for years.
The Hyde Amendment already blocks the use of federal funds for abortion services. But the states of Louisiana and Kansas went a step further trying to block people from using Medicaid for things like cancer screenings, contraceptive coverage, ultrasounds, and other non-abortion related health services at Planned Parenthood. The effort would harm low-income women in particular.
The organization sued the states, arguing the Medicaid Act includes a provision saying beneficiaries are allowed to go to any health provider that is "qualified to perform" the medical services they need. Because of this, lower courts ruled in favour of Planned Parenthood and by declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court is upholding those decisions. Two of the bench's conservative jurists, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, voted to skip the case. The remaining conservative justices — Justice Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch — dissented.
In a statement, Dr. Leana Wen, the new president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, celebrated the court's decision.
"We are pleased that lower court rulings protecting patients remain in place. Every person has a fundamental right to health care, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much they earn," Wen said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "As a doctor, I have seen what’s at stake when people cannot access the care they need, and when politics gets in the way of people making their own health care choices. We won’t stop fighting for every patient who relies on Planned Parenthood for life-saving, life-changing care.”