Staff, wire reports

One of the state’s leading pro-life supporters expressed disappointment with a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court declining to hear the appeals of Louisiana and Kansas, who were challenging lower courts’ decisions to prevent the states from excluding Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid contractor, but expressed optimism regarding future cases.

The court issued the 6-3 order in the cases of Andersen v. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Gee v. Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast on Dec. 10.

The three justices who dissented were Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. New Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was in the majority; if the order had been 5-4, the court would have heard the appeals.

“Planned Parenthood was exposed for selling the body parts of aborted babies, and it should be the prerogative of Louisiana to determine how tax dollars are spent in this state,” Louisiana Right to Life executive director Ben Clapper said.

“As Justice (Clarence) Thomas clearly outlines in his dissent, this is an important question on Medicaid law that has been disputed in various courts across the nation, leading to a split in the circuits. It was time for the Supreme Court to provide guidance to the states. Unfortunately, it declined, which will only lead to further confusion in years to come.”

He added the decision does not invalidate Louisiana 2016 Act 304, which was initiated by Gov. John Bel Edwards and prevents public funds from going to any entity or organization that performs abortions, or that contracts with an entity or organization that performs abortions in Louisiana. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has yet to perform abortions in the state, though they have applied for an outpatient abortion facility license with the Louisiana Department of Health for their facility in New Orleans.

Louisiana and Planned Parenthood are currently in federal court in dispute over the application.

“We expect future legal cases on the important question of taxpayer funds lining the pockets of the abortion industry,” Clapper said  “We look forward to the Supreme Court deciding that it is the right of the state to put a firewall between tax dollars and the business of abortion.”

National pro-life leaders also voiced their disappointment.

“Complicated legal arguments don’t take away from the simple fact that a majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion,” said Jeanne Mancini, who is president of March for Life.

“America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, is responsible for more than 300,000 abortions each year and was recently found to be involved with the harvesting and trafficking of body parts from aborted babies,” she said in a statement issued shortly after the high court declined to hear the states’ appeals.

“Abortion is not health care, it is a human rights abuse,” Mancini added. “Until Planned Parenthood ceases to perform abortions, they should not receive any money from taxpayers.”

Federal funds cannot be used to pay for abortion, but pro-life advocates say Planned Parenthood should not get Medicaid funding because its facilities primarily perform abortions. Also, the organization has been accused of making a profit on providing fetal body parts to researchers.

Planned Parenthood officials and its supporters say the Medicaid funds are used only to help low-income women receive wellness services, cancer screenings, pregnancy tests and birth control.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, said that despite the Supreme Court declining to take the two states’ appeals, the pro-life grassroots movement “will not stop fighting until every single tax dollar is untangled from the abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood.”

She said the pro-life citizens of Kansas, Louisiana and other states “do not want Medicaid tax dollars used to prop up abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.”

“We support their right to redirect taxpayer funds away from entities that destroy innocent lives and instead fund comprehensive community health care alternatives that outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities at least 20 to one nationwide,” Dannenfelser added.

“So what explains the court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood,’ ” Thomas wrote in dissent. “That makes the court’s decision particularly troubling, as the question presented has nothing to do with abortion.”