JACKSON, Miss. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A federal judge is striking down a Mississippi law defunding three Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.
On October 20, district judge Daniel Jordan III ruled Mississippi can't defund Planned Parenthood because the law is in violation of the "Free Choice of Provider Provision" — a "guidance" letter issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The letter dictates that states can only take action against or limit patient access to a Medicare-funded provider for certain reasons: first, if the provider does not adequately "perform covered medical services"; second, if the provider doesn't properly bill customers; and third, if the provider fails "to meet the state's reasonable provider standards."
Approved in May, Senate Bill 2238 removes all funding for "all of the costs of care and services rendered by any entity that performs nontherapeutic abortions, maintains or operates a facility where nontherapeutic abortions are performed, or is affiliated with such an entity."
It specifies that "nontherapeutic abortion" refers to abortions that are not covered by Medicaid. The law was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant and set to become law on July 1, but Planned parenthood filed a lawsuit, putting the law in limbo. Planned Parenthood maintains the three clinics in the state targeted by the law do not perform abortions.
Bryant commented, "I'm sorry to report that a federal judge has blocked a law that would have prevented your tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood." He continued, "I believe the law was the right thing to do and I will continue to stand with the Legislature and people of Mississippi who do not want their hard-earned money going to the largest abortion provider in the nation."
The guidance letter that is the basis of Jordan's decision, however, is not law. In May, the Obama administration released a similar "guidance" letter through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Education in reaction to a North Carolina "transgender bathroom law." When states sued, the Obama administration's own lawyers admitted the letter is "not legally binding."
Only days after Jordan's ruling, another federal court upheld the injunction against Obama's bathroom mandate forcing schools to allow so-called transgender boys in girls' bathrooms and locker rooms.
In 2014, Mississippi decided to require its sole abortion mill to use doctors who have admitting privileges at a local hospital. A federal court overturned that law, keeping open the only abortion mill in the state.