planned parenthood protest medicaid

Things We Saw Today: Planned Parenthood Saw a Supreme Court Victory Today

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In a victory for Planned Parenthood and people seeking safe, legal, affordable abortions, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case today regarding states’ abilities to exclude Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from Medicaid programs. (When people talk about “defunding” Planned Parenthood, this is what they actually mean, since no federal funds go to abortion services.)

By refusing to hear the case, that means the original state court’s decision stands, and that Medicaid programs can’t block this funding and that individual beneficiaries could sue Medicaid for doing so.

This is certainly good news for Planned Parenthood supporters and supporters of choice. But it’s also a more complicated case than that. A lot of people were surprised that Kavanaugh and Roberts sided with the court’s more liberal judges in refusing to hear what could have been the first landmark abortion case of the new conservative-majority court.

Clarence Thomas’ dissent on this case has some troubling implications. He lambasted the decision not to hear it, saying that he suspected his colleagues were avoiding the case, which is about people’s right to sue for medical benefits, because “some of the respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood.'”

“But these cases are not about abortion rights,” he wrote. “They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act…. Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty.”

So basically he’s accusing the majority opinion judges of deliberately avoiding the “politically fraught issue” of abortion. He also notes that states’ decisions on this issue are heavily divided, and that “Because of this Court’s inaction, patients in different States—even patients with the same providers—have different rights to challenge their State’s provider decisions.”

So why did Kavanaugh, who was supported by all sorts of anti-choice groups and activists, choose not to hear this case? Is he waiting until after the public attention on him has died down? Are they hoping to add another conservative judge to the court before taking up this state’s right issue on a Constitutional level? We can definitely celebrate this decision today, but it’s also a reminder not to take our eye off the court anytime soon.

  • What to know about Miles Morales and his (spoiler-free) motivations in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. (via Den of Geek)
  • Avengers: Endgame destroyed the record for 24-hour video views. (via Variety)
  • LOL/sob

  • The description for Jordan Peele’s next movie, Us, is here. It’s very vague and I don’t even care, I’m still so excited. (via /Film)
  • This 8-year-old girl dressed as a young Michelle Obama for her school’s Cultural Heroes Day and it’s absolutely beautiful. (via The Glow Up)
  • This is an interesting read: “How Movies Handled the Social Reckoning of 2018.” (via Film School Rejects)

(image: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.