The U.S. Justice Department sided with Planned Parenthood in its court battle with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) Monday night, telling a federal judge that Jindal lacked "sufficient reasons" to cut off Medicaid funding to the family planning provider.
Last month, Jindal moved to cancel Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contract in Louisiana after an anti-abortion group released a series of heavily edited undercover videos that show the organization's doctors discussing the donation of fetal tissue for medical research after abortions. The 2016 presidential hopeful and other Republicans are claiming the videos show Planned Parenthood engaged in the illegal sale of fetal body parts.
“In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country,” Jindal said in a statement on August 3. “Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life. It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state.”
Jindal felt so strongly about the undercover videos that he aired them on the lawn of the governor's mansion during a recent demonstration in favor of Planned Parenthood in Baton Rouge.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which does not offer abortions in Louisiana, asked a federal court to block Jindal's move in late August, arguing that the undercover videos lack the evidence to "back up false and outrageous claims." Donation of fetal tissue after abortions is legal, and federal law explicitly allows for donors to receive reimbursement costs for the preservation and transportation of fetal tissue. Five state investigations into Planned Parenthood have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.
“We’re in court today to protect over 5,200 people’s access to cancer screenings, well-woman exams and basic health care in Louisiana,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement. “Many of these folks would have nowhere else to turn for health care.”
Jindal said in a statement last month that the Medicaid provider agreement between Louisiana's Department of Health and Planned Parenthood "gives either party the right to cancel the contract at will with a 30-day notice." His office did not respond to the U.S. Justice Department's "statement of interest" filed Monday night in favor of Planned Parenthood.