As abortion rights in the United States edge perilously closer to functionally nonexistent, the Hill reports that South Carolina has become the third state to request that the Trump administration bar Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements. Such a move would be catastrophic for Planned Parenthood and the thousands of mostly low-income patients it serves.
South Carolina submitted the request after a federal judge blocked Republican Governor Henry McMaster’s attempt to kick Planned Parenthood out of the state’s Medicaid network. South Carolina has two Planned Parenthood clinics that offer HIV testing and cancer screenings, in addition to other reproductive health services. The Trump administration is considering similar requests from Texas and Tennessee as well.
Because of the Hyde Amendment, federal funds cannot be used for abortion services, (except in a few cases, such as life endangerment), and Planned Parenthood, the largest reproductive health organization in the country, does not directly receive federal funding. Instead, planned Parenthood and its low-income patients rely on reimbursements under Medicaid and the Title X family planning program for services like breast exams, STI screenings, and birth control. Cutting off Medicaid funding would leave thousands of low income people (who are disproportionately people of color) without access to critical healthcare.
While the Obama administration had previously blocked states from barring Title X funding to family planning centers that provide abortions, in April 2017 Donald Trump signed a bill overturning the protection and enabling states to block funding from Medicaid and Title X. The effort is yet another way for Republicans to choke off money from Planned Parenthood and deter patients from accessing abortions and other vital reproductive health services, an effort they have pursued aggressively, both at the state and federal level, for years.