One of the seemingly interminable battlefronts in our cultural civil war is the battle over taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. Despite the best efforts of the pro-life movement, Planned Parenthood still receives $400 million a year of coercive funding from monies dug out of the pockets of pro-life citizens who believe that all life, even in its earliest stages, comes from God and should be protected as a matter of public policy.
Forcing American citizens to fund Planned Parenthood against their wishes and deeply held religious convictions is a form of what Frederic Bastiat would call “legalized plunder.” It’s a form of theft under color of law. And under this new law, that would no longer happen.
This year, pro-life leaders in Idaho shepherded legislation through the state legislature that offers the promise of putting a huge dent in Planned Parenthood’s coffers. It has been signed into law by pro-life Governor Brad Little and has the support of Idaho’s two senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, as well as freshman congressman Russ Fulcher. It now awaits only the approval of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its Medicaid department to go into effect.
The core of this legislation is ingeniously simple. The legislation requires that all Medicaid recipients who want reproductive health care services must get those services from their primary care physician. This is a pro-patient provision, as it ensures that every user of Medicaid’s family-planning services will have a doctor with a holistic concern for the patient’s health and well-being.
The new law does not shut Planned Parenthood out of receiving Medicaid reimbursements for family planning services. Patients can still receive family planning services from Planned Parenthood but only if they are first referred to Planned Parenthood by their primary care physician.
Here is the beauty of this law from a pro-life perspective. Except for a few rare circumstances, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which a physician would voluntarily give up Medicaid income or the management of a patient’s health care. Why would physicians refer when they are perfectly capable of providing the requested services and receiving the Medicaid reimbursement themselves? They, of course, would still be free to refer patients to Planned Parenthood, but why would they? It’s money out of their own pockets.
Patients are unlikely to prefer the inconvenience of scheduling another appointment to get the same service from someone else. Why would they want the bother?
Women would receive what they’re looking for in the way of family planning services, doctors would get paid, and Planned Parenthood would be left wondering what happened.
The one hurdle that remains is that most Medicaid funding comes from the federal government, meaning the Trump administration must grant permission for this program to go into effect.
If that gets done, this legislation can serve as a template that states all over the country could use. Idaho Chooses Life and its director David Ripley sponsored this bill. He told me, “I’m not aware of any other viable strategy for the states to sever their forced partnership with Planned Parenthood.”
Ripley added, “We ask for the prayers of the faithful on behalf of this waiver request, now pending before the bureaucrats in Washington. Once it’s approved, it will provide a pathway for many other states to prioritize women’s health over Planned Parenthood profits.”
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