Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has pulled Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding in his state — meaning the more than 4,000 Medicaid patients who received services from the organization last year can no longer be treated there. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images News)
Current polling shows Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal garnering a mere 2 percent of the vote among the field of 17 Republican presidential candidates who have qualified for inclusion in some version of the first two debates, putting him 22 points behind Donald Trump, the party’s current leading candidate for the nomination.
So it seems far from arbitrary that Jindal would announce yesterday, in the midst of the Senate debate regarding the now-blocked bill to defund Planned Parenthood, that his state is ending its Medicaid contract with the nonprofit women’s health care provider.
Last year, Planned Parenthood in Louisiana provided care for more than 4,300 patients through Medicaid, including birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Politicians in Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee have tried — and failed — in the past to do the same thing.
Jindal appears to be attempting to piggyback on a loud — but largely unpopular with the general public — movement among Republicans to attempt to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s role as a provider of Title X-funded family planning and preventive health services in response to the allegations, made by the widely discredited undercover “sting” videos released by the antiabortion activist group the Center for Medical Progress last month, that Planned Parenthood is illegally profiting from fetal tissue donation programs run in clinics in just three states.
Fetal tissue donation itself is a legal practice and a critical component of biomedical research. In 2014, the National Institutes of Health funded approximately 150 projects involving the use of fetal tissue for research at some of the leading institutions and teaching hospitals across the country, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, New York University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Washington, University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins University. Federal law mandates that providers be compensated for their costs in collecting, preparing, storing, and transporting fetal tissue specimens to be donated for medical research.
Presently, there are only two Planned Parenthood clinics in the state of Louisiana, neither of which provides abortion services. A third clinic is being built in New Orleans and will offer abortion services. The construction site was subject to attempted arson over the weekend; no one was injured.
In a statement regarding his decision, Jindal said, “In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. 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.”
In a responding statement, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Monday:
“It is almost impossible to believe that Governor Bobby Jindal’s shameful record of restricting women’s access to health care in Louisiana could get any worse. It’s clear he will stop at absolutely nothing to deny women birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and HIV tests. Governor Jindal has aligned himself with extremists who are hell-bent on ending access to safe, legal abortion — including breaking the law, peddling in false accusations, and violence and harassment of women and doctors. Just yesterday, extremists set fire to a security guard’s vehicle outside our Planned Parenthood health center under construction in New Orleans. Planned Parenthood will do everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our staff and patients, and to protect women’s access to health care in Louisiana and all fifty states.”