Bobby Jindal tells Iowa governor how to defund Planned Parenthood
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is offering Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad advice on tactics for defunding Planned Parenthood.
According to reports from a conservative website in Iowa, Jindal sent Branstad a letter dated Sept. 23 and written on letterhead from Jindal’s office. The letter was released after Branstad announced Tuesday (Sept. 29) that he wouldn’t pursue canceling Medicaid funding for the family planning organization.
Presidential candidates usually focus on national issues rather than wade into debates over state and local issues where they are campaigning. But in this case, defunding Planned Parenthood has risen to the fore of the national political discussion, with hearings held in Congress this week on the organization’s practice of making fetal tissue and body parts available to medical researchers.
And Jindal, with his frequent confrontations with the Louisiana-Texas chapter of Planned Parenthood this summer, is positioning himself in Iowa as something of an expert in hobbling the organization’s ability to provide medical services in Louisiana to the poor.
“At my direction, (the Department of Health and Hospitals) notified Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of the termination of their Medicaid contract with the state of Louisiana, for cause,” Jindal wrote in the letter, which was posted to the website of the Iowa-based Family Leader. “I encourage you to watch these videos and to take similar action in your state as well.”
Jindal is referring to nine undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood Federation of America discussing how the organization makes fetal tissue available to medical researchers. Jindal confronted a Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast rally in front of the Governor’s Mansion by playing the videos on a screen across from the rally.
The Family Leader is running a campaign in Iowa pressuring Branstad, a Republican, to defund Planned Parenthood. A video on the anti-abortion group’s website includes a clip of Branstad saying he doesn’t believe Planned Parenthood should receive public funding even if it isn’t using that money to perform abortions.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast does not perform abortions in Louisiana.
Branstad said Tuesday that he doesn’t believe the state has the legal authority to defund Planned Parenthood, according to the Des Moines Register. He was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “The attorney general’s office has notified us that we don’t have reasons; they haven’t violated their responsibilities under the grants that they have received from the state.”
Jindal’s legal authority for pulling Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood in Louisiana has also come under question. When Department of Helath and Hospital attorneys were grilled by a federal judge about whether the state could pull Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood without cause, DHH withdrew its original termination letters and filed a new defunding notice that accused Planned Parenthood of violating state administrative rules.
The Jindal administration’s new approach is still being resisted by Planned Parenthood, this time through an administrative appeal. A DHH spokeswoman said the appeal hasn’t been filed yet — Planned Parenthood has 30 days to file the paperwork — and that could result in a lengthy process that could stretch through the fall, if not later.
“It’s a long process,” DHH spokeswoman Olivia Watkins said in an email. She added that “it is possible that this extends into the next administration.”
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Gulf States is still able to bill the state for treating the 5,200 patients it treats at facilities in Baton Rouge and New Orleans while the appeal is pending.