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Indiana clinics again see Medicaid patients

Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana started seeing Medicaid patients again Saturday, the day after a federal judge ruled the state couldn't cut off the organization's public funding for general health services just because it also provides abortions.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana has been without Medicaid funding since May 10, when Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, signed the law that cut off about $1.4 million and made Indiana the first state to deny the organization Medicaid funds for such services as breast exams and Pap tests.

Planned Parenthood, which serves about 9,300 Indiana clients on the state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people, was forced to stop seeing Medicaid patients last week after private donations that had paid those patients' bills ran out.

The ruling Friday by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt blocked parts of Indiana's tough new abortion law and granted Planned Parenthood of Indiana's request for an injunction on the state's move to defund the organization.

The judge agreed with federal officials who said states cannot restrict Medicaid recipients' freedom to choose their health care provider or disqualify Medicaid providers merely because they also offer abortions.

Bryan Corbin, spokesman for the Indiana Attorney General's Office, said the state likely will appeal.

State Sen. Scott Schneider, an Indianapolis Republican who sponsored the measure to defund Planned Parenthood, said the state should appeal. "The whole ruling is disappointing, in my opinion. In my opinion, it's judicial activism," he said.

Pratt's ruling was part of a double setback for Indiana conservatives Friday.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker granted a request for an injunction blocking two provisions of the state's new immigration law, saying the law was the latest failed effort of states to deal with a primarily federal issue.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the National Immigration Law Center sued the state in May, contending the law gives police sweeping powers to arrest immigrants who haven't committed crimes.

State Sen. Mike Delph, a Republican from Carmel who authored the immigration law, said the judges in both cases overreached.

"Collectively, what this shows is a judicial branch of government that is out of touch with the people of Indiana," he said Saturday.