Supreme Court Declines To Hear South Carolina’s Abortion Funding Challenge

(┬áSouth Carolina’s push to stop sending public funding to Planned Parenthood came to a halt Tuesday, when the Supreme Court declined to hear the state’s appeal.

The state had appealed a lower court ruling that prevented South Carolina from blocking funding under its Medicaid program to the Planned Parenthood South Atlantic office, which is the regional affiliate for the group.

The affiliate operates clinics in both Columbia and Charleston, providing abortions, physical exams, health screenings and cancer screenings. Those two clinics see hundreds of different patients every year who receive assistance from Medicaid.

In 2018, Julie Edwards, who is a Planned Parenthood patient who benefits from Medicaid, sued the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services once it stopped allowing the organization to participate in the state’s Medicaid program.

Republican Governor Henry McMaster declared through executive orders that any organization that provided abortions would be deemed unqualified to also provide family planning services. The state would, therefore, cut off funding to these organizations.

According to the lawsuit, as a result of this action, Planned Parenthood was forced to turn away any patients on Medicaid who were seeking to get services through them.

Before this executive order, South Carolina only provided reimbursements for Medicaid for abortions, except in cases of incest, rape or if the mother’s life was in danger. That’s what required by federal law.

In 2019, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Virginia, blocked South Carolina’s decision. The court ruled the state violated patients’ rights they have from the federal Medicaid Act. This act allows patients to receive medical assistant from any institution “qualified to perform the service.”

In other words, South Carolina could ban Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood if it was deemed not competent to perform the services.

South Carolina’s health department appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. In their appeal to the highest court, they claimed recipients of Medicaid don’t have a right to challenge a state’s determination that any health provider isn’t qualified to provide specific medical services.

In 2018, the Supreme Court also rejected appeals from the states of Kansas and Louisiana. Both states were looking to stop providing Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. During those cases, conservative justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas said the Supreme Court should’ve heard those appeals.

Once again, though, the high court declined to hear a case that could have had large ramifications for the abortion industry in the country. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America currently. Every year, they receive millions of public funding dollars for other health-care services that they offer.

Conservative states have been attempting to bring challenges to different aspects of abortion to the Supreme Court for the last few years, in hopes of overturning some aspect of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision from the 1970s — or at least putting some limitations on abortion. To this point, they haven’t been successful, either because the court has ruled against them or declined to hear their cases outright.