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U.S. Department of Justice says Louisiana will violate federal law if it cancels Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s contracts

DOJ says state is wrong



  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is standing behind Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's lawsuit against the state of Louisiana, which is attempting to cut the organization's contracts and Medicaid reimbursements. The DOJ filed a brief saying, "Louisiana has not proffered sufficient reasons to terminate" the contract and likely would be violating federal law if it canceled those contracts.

  Gov. Bobby Jindal has argued that he has authority to cancel the contracts at will, but federal authorities say his authority does not override the federal government's. In August, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also told states attempting to block Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood that they would likely violate federal law.

  Jindal announced in July that he planned to halt all Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood in Louisiana following allegations that the organization sells tissue from aborted fetuses. Other states have made similar threats after a heavily edited video from the anti-abortion organization Center for Medical Progress alleged that Planned Parenthood officials openly discussed the practice.

  Planned Parenthood does not perform abortions in Louisiana but serves more than 10,000 patients annually for STI, breast and cervical exams and other health services. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and three patients filed a lawsuit in federal court last month seeking to block the state from cutting the Medicaid contracts. U.S. District Judge John deGravelles is reviewing the lawsuit, and the state's Department of Health and Hospitals agreed to postpone cutting Medicaid ties to Planned Parenthood until at least Sept. 15 while the case continues. DeGravelles, meanwhile, appears to be unconvinced that the video allegations are sufficient grounds for Jindal, who is running for president, to deny patient care.

  "There's no question that what Governor Jindal is trying to do is not only unlawful, it is wrong," Planned Parenthood Louisiana director Melissa S. Flournoy said in a statement Aug. 31. "Politics should never get in the way of health care. ... There is nothing to substantiate the state's claim that other providers can absorb the patients Planned Parenthood will no longer be able to see if this is allowed to stand."

  In its response brief, Planned Parenthood said that "regardless of the real reason behind the termination, [the state] has still not argued, proven, or even suggested that PPGC is not 'qualified' to provide services in Medicaid."

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