Planned Parenthood preps class-action lawsuit against Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — When arguments begin over an unconstitutional ban on Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, residents of Arkansas will see their money wasted by the defendants.
That’s because the state decided to defend the illegal defunding of Planned Parenthood instead of doing right and restoring the funding with minimal loss of tax dollars.
US District Judge Kristine Baker granted Planned Parenthood class action status on Monday for its challenge to Arkansas’ ban on Medicaid funding to the health care provider over videos secretly recorded by the Center for Medical Progress, whose chairman is among two people indicted for criminal acts in their failed attempt to get rid of the premier women’s health organization. That move strengthens Planned Parenthood’s bid to reverse the state’s decision in August to halt funding after the videos surfaced in July 2015, claiming to show the nonprofit group’s officials negotiating the sale of fetal body parts for profit.
Planned Parenthood has denied the accusation.
Suzanna de Baca, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said the group’s attorneys would proceed with the paperwork to formalize the class action in an expeditious manner.
In a decision last year, Judge Baker ruled that Arkansas violated federal law by banning Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds. She ordered the state to restore the funds as a result of a lawsuit by three women, all whom the judge ruled would face irreparable harm if Planned Parenthood is disqualified from the Medicaid program. As of this post, Arkansas has failed to do so.
“Plaintiffs and other class members will rely on the exact same legal theory in challenging (the state’s) actions,” Baker wrote.
The state attorney general’s office had asked Baker to deny class-action certification or, in the alternative, narrow the scope of the class to include only current patients of Planned Parenthood, arguing that the class should not include “people who have never set foot in a PPH facility” because including them would make it impossible to ascertain who the members of the class are. Baker disagreed.
“The Court finds that the class definition is drafted in a way such that class members are ascertainable by objective criteria and declines to narrow the scope of the class,” she said in the order.
Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement Monday, “We’re pleased that in granting the request for class certification today, the court has brought plaintiffs one step closer to being able to protect the rights of the thousands of Arkansans who are still affected by Governor Hutchinson’s illegal efforts to block Medicaid patients from accessing health care at Planned Parenthood.”
Planned Parenthood now will ask Baker to extend the preliminary injunction to include “all of the women and men who depend on Planned Parenthood for care,” de Baca said.
Here’s hoping that Planned Parenthood not only wins this case, but is also given the authority to seize all of Arkansas’s Medicaid funding in the process.