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Case Page: Baker v. Edwards

by | May 7, 2020 | Case | 0 comments


In 2018, the South Carolina Department of Health & Human Services determined that the state’s abortion providers were unqualified to receive state Medicaid funding. Planned Parenthood and Julie Edwards, a state resident demanding to use Medicaid services at Planned Parenthood, sued arguing that states should not be permitted to disqualify abortion providers. 

While the Medicaid Act provides that patients can receive services at any qualified provider, it does not require the state to consider every provider to be qualified. In fact, the Act provides that disqualified providers can appeal the state’s decision in state court. Instead, Planned Parenthood and Edwards sued in federal court claiming they have a right to sue directly under the Medicaid Act. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit erroneously ruled that Planned Parenthood has a right to sue under the Medicaid Act and that the Act requires that Planned Parenthood be funded.

The State of South Carolina filed a petition seeking review before the U.S. Supreme Court. In support of the state’s petition, the Independence Law Center filed a brief on behalf of 32 state family policy councils (like the PA Family Council) arguing that the State of South Carolina should be free to disqualify providers when funding those providers is contrary to the healthcare priorities of the state. The Independence Law Center also argued that the Fourth Circuit’s decision harms the intended beneficiary of medicaid — low-income families.  

It is imperative that the U.S. Supreme Court take this case so that states are able to defund abortion providers.