On Monday, Alabama dropped its legal battle to defund Planned Parenthood after a federal judge ruled that they had insufficient reason to cut funding, and the organization affirmed that it would keep abiding by laws governing fetal tissue handling. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that Alabama would continue to provide Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, as well as pay its $51,000 in legal fees.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley pursued funding cuts after viewing a video released by an anti-abortion organization. The undercover video allegedly shows Planned Parenthood officials deciding on prices for fetal tissue procured from abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics. The organization has repeatedly insisted that the videos are edited deceptively, and that Planned Parenthood receives no funds for tissues donated — with consent — to scientific research.
Court filings show Alabama lawyers argued that the video raised concerns about abortion practices, and that Planned Parenthood may alter abortion methods to obtain the best tissue samples, rather than what is best for the patient. In response, Judge Thompson said the argument was "beside the point," considering that neither of the two Planned Parenthood clinics in Alabama take part in fetal tissue donation.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood, celebrated the ruling, which comes after last week's deadly attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. Richards called the ruling "an important victory" and highlighted the challenges the lack of funding would have caused Alabama women.
In Louisiana and Utah, federal judges have ordered that Medicaid continue to cover Planned Parenthood visits, and five states have already closed inquiries into Planned Parenthood coverage, finding no evidence to justify fund cuts. But the fight continues: today, Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against Texas, claiming the state does not have just cause for removing them from the Medicaid program.
After the state lost the case, Alabama's Gov. Bentley said, "I am disappointed, and vehemently disagree with the Court's ruling today." In true stubborn fashion, however, Bentley promised to look into the next legal steps available to the state against Planned Parenthood.
An independent company hired by Planned Parenthood found that the videos in question were indeed altered, although the company — Fusion GPS — says that the videos could hold evidentiary value if the unaltered footage was eventually provided. A lawsuit by the National Abortion Federation has kept anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress from releasing more footage until the case is resolved.
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