A federal judge has temporarily blocked Gov. Henry McMaster’s effort to stop Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds.
District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis halted the governor’s executive order from taking effect until Planned Parenthood had a chance to make its arguments in court.
The Governor’s Office this summer tried to block state Medicaid money from going towards abortion providers. While federal law does not allow Medicaid funds to fund abortions except for rape, incest or mother’s life cases, the governor had argued state money was still indirectly subsidizing them.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic argued it was being unconstitutionally singled out and filed a lawsuit challenging the order. The organization operates clinics in Columbia and Charleston.
Lewis wrote that PPSAT is a “professional competent and capable” provider and federal law already bans most abortion funding. She added that federal law does not give states “unlimited authority to exclude providers for any reason whatsoever.”
McMaster had vetoed Planned Parenthood’s share of Medicaid family planning money in the state budget. Since the state did not get an exemption from the federal government, the move put its family planning dollars at risk. The governor directed the Department of Health and Human Services to use $16 million in surplus funds left over from last year to cover the difference.
“We’ll let the judicial process take its course,” McMaster said Wednesday. “Of course I disagree with it but she’s the judge so we’ll let the process take its course so we’ll go to the next step.”
“Planned Parenthood promotes abortion and does so with taxpayer money,” he said. “There’s no way to keep the taxpayer money separate from the various things that they do. I believe that it is improper for the South Carolina taxpayers to be having their money go there when it certainly is clear they don’t want it to go there.”
Previous budgets showed South Carolina paid Planned Parenthood up to $13,000 each year for family planning services, which include birth control and sexually-transmitted disease testing. The overwhelming majority of the $16 million goes to other providers.