Taxpayers in Alabama got a bad deal on Monday when Gov. Robert Bentley’s crusade against Planned Parenthood fell short of the mark, costing the state $51,000. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that Gov. Bentley’s attempt to strip Planned Parenthood Southeast of its Medicaid funding failed after a federal judge ruled against Bentley, leaving residents of Alabama to foot the bill for legal fees after the state settled.
$51,000 is roughly nine times the amount of Medicaid money Planned Parenthood Southeast received over the last two years. For the record, Planned Parenthood Southeast didn’t participate in the fetal tissue program that led to Gov. Bentley’s hysteria and has only used Medicaid dollars for abortions in the case of rape, incest or when a mother’s life is in danger.
To make matters even more troubling, Gov. Bentley admitted that he never even consulted the southeast Planned Parenthood affiliate before pulling its contract. Essentially, Gov. Bentley made a decision based on his personal morality rather than the rule of law. Not only did Gov. Bentley not have the legal precedent to pull the contract, he in fact breached the Medicaid Act’s free-choice-of-provider provision, which allows patients to seek out medical providers of their choice, and not the state’s.
“To conclude otherwise would not only strip the Medicaid Act’s free-choice-of-provider provision of all meaning, but also would contravene clear congressional intent to give Medicaid beneficiaries the right to receive covered services from any qualified and willing provider,” U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson said in his ruling last month.
Planned Parenthood Southeast CEO Staci Fox released a statement following the announcement of the settlement: “The courts have made it clear across the country that these are losing battles that ultimately waste resources and harm patients.” Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards, who recently testified in front of a particularly hostile (and misguided) Congressional committee, said, “Let it be known to politicians and extremists who are doubling down on their efforts to target care at our health centers — Planned Parenthood will continue to stand up and protect our patients.”
Though women in Alabama, and the rest of the country, will continue to receive Planned Parenthood care covered by Medicaid, at what cost do these unfounded lawsuits come to the American taxpayer? While governors are belligerently canceling federally-protected contracts, taxpayers are footing the bill for misguided policy decisions. In the case of Alabama, $51,000 was wasted because a politician didn’t understand the very laws he was elected to uphold.