Obama Admin Warns GOP: Try To Illegally Defund Planned Parenthood, Things Will End Badly For You

The Obama administration has put its money where its mouth is in defense of Planned Parenthood. As Republican-led states continue to target the non-profit health clinic over fictional claims hurled by anti-abortion radicals, Democrats in Congress and President Obama have drawn a bright red line in the sand: If you mess with the health care of millions of women, you’re stepping into a world of hurt.

Hoping to call Obama’s bluff, Alabama and Louisiana have both moved to block Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood, hoping the lack of government money will force the clinics to wither on the vine. The goal is simple: Destroy Planned Parenthood to prevent women from having abortions by making it impossible for them to find a place to get one. Is that legal? No. No it is not.

The gambit failed and these states are about to learn that President Obama wasn’t messing around.

The Department of Health and Human Services isn’t taking these infractions lightly. The Obama administration has sent a letter through the HHS to both states notifying them that blocking hundreds of thousands of dollars in vital government funding to the clinics over an ideological vendetta is way out of line.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a unit of HHS, has notified Alabama and Louisiana, which have taken action to terminate their Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood, that they may be in conflict with federal law, HHS said. The agency said that, by restricting providers, women could lose access to critical preventive care, such as cancer screenings.

HHS said it provided both states with guidance it released in a June 2011 memo, which says states aren’t permitted to exclude providers from Medicaid solely on the basis of the range of medical services they provide. The memo says states may exclude providers under certain circumstances, such as when providers commit fraud or certain criminal acts.

In other words, the HHS warned these states all the way back in 2011 that they were not to do the exact thing they are trying to do unless they found that a provider was violating the law…and Planned Parenthood hasn’t committed fraud or criminal acts, despite what conservatives have been screaming about. In fact, in every single investigation launched thus far – across multiple states and many individual clinics – not a single case of wrongdoing has been uncovered. The heavily-doctored videos released by anti-choice extremists have accomplished nothing other than to mislead many people uncomfortable with abortion into thinking Planned Parenthood is running a “baby parts for profit” business model. These lawmakers don’t get to shut down a women’s right to choose because they personally find the idea of abortion icky.

Louisiana’s unrelenting attack on Planned Parenthood over the edited videos is particularly egregious because the state’s few clinics don’t actually provide abortions. Closing those down accomplishes nothing other than to deprive many of Louisiana’s poor with no ability to receive things like cancer screenings and STD tests.

If the state’s continue to try to kill Planned Parenthood illegally, there will be a federal hearing schedule. If they don’t drop it then, the CMS will cut federal Medicaid funds to the entire state (a potential loss of millions that states will then have to come up with on their own.) They’re playing a dangerous game here. Poll after poll has shown that most people – even those who disagree with abortion – approve of Planned Parenthood and the services it provides. If your governor lost millions of dollars over a game of chicken with the federal government, how would you feel?

Lawmakers in Alabama and Louisiana should be embarrassed of themselves. If you ever wake up to discover that you’ve received a letter from the HHS letting you know your plan to screw the poor is so repugnant that it actually crosses the line into being illegal, you’re the bad guy. If you then continue to fight the federal government over the issue by spending thousands of dollars in legal fees for a battle you will ultimately lose, you’re approaching comic book villain territory.

Feature image via the White House