This is a guest post by Lauren Bruce, life-long Indiana resident, founder of and former resident blogger at Feministe.
Last week, Jill reported that the state of Indiana might cut funding to Planned Parenthood as well as enacting some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Yesterday that bill was signed into law, cutting two-thirds of funding to Planned Parenthood of Indiana as well as requiring doctors to tell women that life begins at fertilization and that a fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
So, this is a repeat of every other backwards pro-life law in the country, right?
First, PPIN and the ACLU are challenging the constitutionality of the law on grounds that:
…forcing doctors to give [inaccurate] information [to patients]… violates First Amendment free-speech protections. The lawsuit also contends that the new law’s defunding provision, by taking effect immediately, would void contracts and grants already in effect, violating the U.S. Constitution’s contract clause. The suit also says that the law imposes an unconstitutional condition on Planned Parenthood by requiring it to choose between performing abortions and receiving non-abortion-related funding, and says that the measure runs afoul of federal Medicaid law.
which could draw the blueprint for future challenges in other areas. It’s worth mentioning that PPIN is being targeted for providing a constitutionally-protected procedure that is already prevented from federal subsidies thanks to the Hyde amendment. PP is targeted for providing abortion services at all despite having separate funding streams for abortion-related and non-abortion-related services.
Also problematic, from an earlier version of the same article,
The Family and Social Services Administration also has expressed concerns that it could cause Indiana to run afoul of Medicaid policy and lose all $4 million the agency gets in family planning dollars. The bill technically cuts off funds to any entity that performs abortions. However, it exempts hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, so Planned Parenthood is effectively the only target.
PPIN and ACLU were denied a restraining order meaning the law will take effect immediately while the judge reviews the constitutionality of this law. PPIN is reviewing its current funds to see how long they can cover existing services without state or federal revenue. From personal experience, I can tell you that waiting lists are so long for some non-PP community health clinics that people who need more urgent care, such as prenatal care or STI treatment and screenings will be forced to wait weeks or months to receive services or pay in full for private treatment.
Conservative groups in other states, meanwhile, are eyeballing the proceedings to see whether this attempt to bring down the Planned Parenthood baddie is successful. A similar bill is in working its way through the Kansas legislature with the support of Sam Brownback.
The second reason you should be paying attention: Say hello to Mitch Daniels.
There is a lot of speculation about Daniels running in the GOP presidential primaries in 2012. He’s a shoo-in, a relatively well-liked and successful governor who favors old-school conservative methods like privatization of public services and libertarian “live and let live” approaches to social issues. Daniels is seen as a move away from “populist evangelicalism” of the current GOP. He is even on record calling for a “truce” on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage in order to get fiscal issues, “the people’s work,” he says, through government.
That family planning is a fiscal issue on micro- and macro-levels is apparently a non-issue for Daniels, because he and other Indiana state officials are on record saying that birth control is easily accessible to everyone! Because as Sue Swayze, Daniels supporter and legislative director of Indiana Right to Life, says, “You can buy some types of contraceptive devices at Walmart.”
The numbers don’t lie. Fiscal conservatives should know, about half of all births in Indiana are funded by Medicaid today and PPIN estimates this will “cost the state $68 million in Medicaid expenses for unintended pregnancies by reducing birth control access.”
In short, this flip-flop in Mitch Daniels’ politics is a healthy indicator that he is shoring up the base for his presidential run.
So what can you do?
1. Contact Mitch Daniels and reiterate the importance of family planning services in responsible fiscal policy. If you’re in Indiana, contact your state representative and express your dissatisfaction with this bill.
2. Donate to Planned Parenthood of Indiana or to Planned Parenthood of America, who is helping PPIN with the legal proceedings. Per Mary in comments, “Annoyed/furious/concerned parties might also consider donating to the ACLU of Indiana, which is handling all the legal work with a staff of two overworked attorneys and a paralegal.” If you feel spicy, do it under Mitch Daniels’ name.
3. Spread the word, about the law and Daniels too. Let people know you donated today and why. Retweet, reblog, tumbl, post to your Facebook wall, whatever. Remember this guy’s face and his willingness to sacrifice healthcare for uninsured and low-income women for the sake of politics. He could be your next president.