Federal Judge Kristine Baker
today denied a request by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
that she expedite a hearing on making a class action of its lawsuit over the state's effort to cut off Medicaid to its clinics.
The judge gave the state two weeks to respond to the request, though it had asked for more time.
The judge has ruled the state couldn't legally stop the three plaintiffs in the case from choosing Planned Parenthood for medical services covered by Medicaid (a variety of general healtlh services not including abortion). But she didn't apply the order generally. Planned Parenthood then asked to amend its complaint to make it a class action for all Medicaid patients seeking its services. The judge has that request under consideration.
The judge today also denied a request by the state to further question the Jane Doe plaintiffs. She said it wasn't necessary for purposes of the class action request and the state had "failed to articulate why such a deposition is necessary now or to describe any areas of anticipated inquiry relevant to class certification." She speculated that the state wanted to show the plaintiffs were recruited, but she said even if the Jane Does were recruited to serve as plaintiffs "that alone would not defeat their request for class certification."
The state wants to cut off money because of reports that an unaffiliated Planned Parenthood clinic in Washington was targeted by an undercover anti-abortion video maker attempting to show they'd taken improper payments for fetal tissue donations. No evidence of that has yet turned up, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson used it as pretext to end Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood clinics in Arkansas. Other Republican governors have done the same because Planned Parenthood also provides abortions. In Arkansas, it does not clinic abortions, but administers pills that cause miscarriages in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.