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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear a Case About Defunding Planned Parenthood

Conservative Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh sided with their liberal colleagues on the issue

Protesters hold signs supporting Planned Parenthood, in Seattle, as they demonstrate against President Donald Trump and his choice of federal appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his second nominee to the Supreme Court, July 10, 2018.

Protesters hold signs supporting Planned Parenthood in Seattle.

Ted S Warren/AP/Shutterstock

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a case that could have paved the way for Republican states around the country to defund Planned Parenthood.

A lower court had previously blocked laws passed in Louisiana and Kansas that declared Medicaid funds couldn’t be used to receive services at the women’s health care clinic. Those rulings will remain in place.

Dr. Lena Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, cheered the court’s decision Monday. “Every person has a fundamental right to health care, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much they earn,” Wen said in a statement. “As a doctor, I have seen what’s at stake when people cannot access the care they need, and when politics gets in the way of people making their own health care choices. We won’t stop fighting for every patient who relies on Planned Parenthood for life-saving, life-changing care.”

While Monday’s ruling is a victory for Planned Parenthood, it’s only a limited one: a federal court in Arkansas has ruled it’s perfectly legal for the state to deny funds to the organization. Because the court refused to hear the case, that ruling will remain in place as well.

Conservatives Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh sided with their liberal colleagues in rejecting the case; Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch voted to hear it. “Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty,” Thomas wrote in his dissent. “We are responsible for the confusion among the lower courts, and it is our job to fix it.”

But the court may get another opportunity soon: Similar efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are still being fought in court in Ohio and Texas.

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