Indiana Bill Cuts Funds for Clinics for Women
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Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana said Friday that he would sign a bill cutting off Medicaid financing for Planned Parenthood, a move that lawmakers in several states have begun pondering as a new approach in the battle over abortion. Indiana becomes the first state to go forward.
Abortion rights supporters condemned the decision, saying it would leave 22,000 poor residents of Indiana, who use Planned Parenthood's 28 health facilities in the state, with nowhere to go for a range of women's services, from breast cancer screening to birth control. Planned Parenthood of Indiana said it would file an injunction to block the measure from taking effect. But abortion opponents said the move merely guarded against sending tax dollars to facilities that perform abortions, and said women on Medicaid still had plenty of health facilities available to them all over Indiana.
"Any organization affected by this provision can resume receiving taxpayer dollars immediately by ceasing or separating its operations that perform abortions," Mr. Daniels said in a statement. Federal law prohibits Medicaid money from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, a threat to the life of a mother or incest. Planned Parenthood says Medicaid dollars go toward paying for items like annual exams, birth control and breast cancer screening.
Indiana's bill comes as Mr. Daniels, a Republican in a state where Republicans last fall gained control of both chambers of the legislature, is expected to announce a decision soon about running for president in 2012.
The bill cutting off an expected $2 million in Medicaid financing to Planned Parenthood could have become law without the governor's signature, and Mr. Daniels's announcement was viewed by some as a sign that he may be leaning toward running and hoping to increase his appeal among social conservatives. Some critics of the bill, who lobbied the governor to veto it, said they were surprised he had turned his attention to abortion when he had, of late, focused firmly on matters of the state's finances and education, including vouchers for private or parochial school tuition.
"Clearly, Governor Daniels would rather play politics with women's health than show leadership and fiscal responsibility in rejecting a bill that will ultimately cost the state millions in federal funding," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Indiana's bill includes other provisions aimed at limiting abortion. Among them: a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in most cases rather than an earlier standard of viability, which was often determined by doctors to be several weeks later. Several states, including Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, have recently set earlier limits.
First Published April 30, 2011 12:00 am