Judge: Arkansas must fund some Planned Parenthood benefits - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Judge: Arkansas must fund some Planned Parenthood benefits

By ANDREW DeMILLO
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A federal judge says Arkansas must continue paying for a portion of its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood while she weighs a lawsuit challenging a decision to cut off money because of secretly recorded videos made by an anti-abortion group.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Friday issued a preliminary injunction that said the state must continue to pay for benefits for three unidentified women who sued the state. Baker last month had reinstated the Medicaid contract for all Planned Parenthood funding for two weeks.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson terminated the contract in August over the videos. Planned Parenthood subsequently sued.

The state says Planned Parenthood received more than $51,000 in Medicaid payments in Arkansas over the past year for family planning and gynecological services. No money went toward abortions.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A federal judge on Friday said Arkansas must continue its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood while she considers a lawsuit challenging the state's decision to cut off funding over secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from terminating its Medicaid contract with the organization. Baker last month reinstated the contract for two weeks, and that order was set to expire late Friday afternoon.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson terminated the state's contract in August over the videos, and Planned Parenthood sued days before the cancellation would have taken effect last month.

The state says Planned Parenthood received more than $51,000 in Medicaid payments in Arkansas over the past fiscal year for family planning and gynecological services. None of the money went toward abortions.

Hutchinson earlier this year signed into law a measure prohibiting public funding to abortion providers and entities that refer women to abortion providers, a move aimed at blocking any money to Planned Parenthood. But the new law didn't apply to Medicaid funding. Planned Parenthood had previously received money for sex education funding.

Republicans around the country have targeted Planned Parenthood after several videos were released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress. The center said the videos showed that Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood has said the organization receives legal payment only for the cost of the procedure and requires a mother's consent before the tissue is given to researchers.

Arkansas is among several states that have moved to block Medicaid funding because of the videos. Planned Parenthood has filed similar lawsuits in Utah, Louisiana and Alabama challenging the defunding moves. The U.S. Justice Department has argued that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision to cut off Medicaid funds to the group appeared to violate federal law.

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