Although many have speculated how our nation’s newest Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would rule when it comes to abortion, the first test of his stance has begun.
The justices met in conference last Friday, October 12th, to discuss which upcoming cases they will hear. Two of the cases on the table concerned abortion providers: Andersen v. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Gee v. Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast.
The cases are practically identical in detail. They set one question before the court: Under the Medicaid Act, are individuals allowed to sue their states in federal court in order to utilize their benefits at any preferred provider? In these cases, the preferred provider in question is Planned Parenthood.
However, this question can easily be rephrased: Should states be forced to allow Medicaid funding to go to abortion providers?
The states involved in these cases, Kansas and Louisiana, had both removed the Planned Parenthood groups in question from the list of approved Medicaid providers. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri was disqualified after it refused to comply with state law and be inspected, and Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast was removed after its failure to report multiple Medicaid fraud lawsuits filed against it.
Now, the two states are asking the Supreme Court to take up their case and affirm that states have the right to determine which providers meet standards for best care and utilization of Medicaid dollars. If the Supreme Court does not rule in the states’ favor, they will likely have to continue sending tax dollars to the two Planned Parenthood groups.
“It is well-established that states, as well as the federal government, are not required to fund elective abortions. But it is far from settled whether states must fund abortion providers for other services that they provide,” wrote Rachel Busick, counsel at Americans United for Life.
This will be the first opportunity to see how Kavanaugh responds to an issue impacting abortion in reality, not speculation. Many believe that with the Supreme Court now having a 5-4 conservative majority, rulings on abortion will start to shift.
The justices should announce whether or not they will be taking these two cases up within the next few days.
Photo credit: Matt Wade via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0