Fourth court ruling in six weeks to protect access to care at Planned Parenthood


Montgomery, AL – In a victory for Alabama women, a federal judge today blocked Governor Robert Bentley’s attempts to bar patients from accessing care through Medicaid at Planned Parenthood health centers in the state.  

The case was brought on of both Planned Parenthood Southeast and an individual Jane Doe plaintiff. In requiring the Planned Parenthood remains in the program, the court recognized that Governor Bentley's actions would harm women seeking care, writing: "Without the injunction, Doe would be forced to stop seeking services from a provider with whom she is comfortable, and she might well not be able to identify another provider with whom she could forge such a relationship."

This comes on the heels of rulings in Arkansas, Utah and Louisiana finding that states cannot cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for critical preventive healthcare. To date, two federal Courts of Appeals, the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, have blocked similar laws enacted in Indiana and Arizona, and the Supreme Court declined to review both of those rulings. The preliminary injunction will stop enforcement of Governor Robert Bentley’s illegal efforts to block Medicaid patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers while the case goes forward.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for quality, compassionate affordable health care,” said Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast. “It’s outrageous that Governor Bentley is trying to take care away from women and families in our communities who need it the most. This case isn’t about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the hardworking women who seek lifesaving and life-changing care at our health centers.” 

“For the fourth time in six weeks, the courts have ruled to protect access to care at Planned Parenthood. Governor Bentley’s misguided attempt to score political points on the backs of Alabama’s women has been stopped for now, but it’s clear that politicians will not stop in their attempts to ban abortion and block access to care at Planned Parenthood,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Whether it’s in court or in Congress, Planned Parenthood will continue to fight for women’s health and rights in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and across the country.”

Judge Thompson has rightly recognized that the State of Alabama's termination of the Medicaid provider agreement is a violation of federal law,” said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “The State of Alabama cannot impermissibly target abortion providers for unfair treatment. Today's ruling is a victory for the women of Alabama.”

In August, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU asked for a preliminary injunction to stop the State of Alabama’s efforts to block patients from accessing care through Medicaid at Planned Parenthood Southeast. Planned Parenthood’s complaint, available online here, argues the Governor’s actions violate federal law and could make it harder for women to access birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, and other preventive health care services. By his own admission,  speaking before the Madison County Republican Men’s Club and in a declaration to the court, Governor Bentley’s attempt to terminate the agreement with Planned Parenthood Southeast was based upon a widely discredited video generated as part of a fraudulent misinformation campaign against Planned Parenthood and has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood’s qualifications as a Medicaid provider.

The latest research shows there are more than 320,000 Alabama women in need of publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies.  One in five women in Alabama doesn’t have health insurance, 16 percent of women are living in poverty in Alabama, and the state ranks 15th highest among 50 states in teen pregnancy rates.   

Planned Parenthood Southeast has two health centers in Alabama, located in Birmingham and Mobile, and both of these health centers provide care in Health Professional Shortage Areas, which are determined to be areas where primary care professionals are practically inaccessible. 

Planned Parenthood is represented by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Planned Parenthood Southeast filed suit to protect access to care for women in Alabama.

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Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation's largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America

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Published

October 28, 2015