The 8th Circuit US Court of Appeals has for the second time in four months turned Planned Parenthood Great Plains away in its quest to regain qualified healthcare provider status in the state of Arkansas.
The decision is the latest in a two-year battle that began when Governor Asa Hutchinson cancelled Arkansas’ contract with PPGP, largely due to the numerous videos showing various Planned Parenthood representatives discussing the sale of fetal body parts harvested post-abortion.
Since that time, the Federal District Court and the 8th Circuit have gone back and forth on the issue, with the Appeals Court this time refusing to reconsider its earlier 2-1 decision in August to let Hutchison’s decision stand.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood claimed - and were previously backed up by the Obama Department of Health and Human Services - that the decision violated federal law, though determining the qualification of Medicaid providers has typically been left up to the states.
"Attorney General (Leslie) Rutledge is pleased with the court's decision to deny the request for rehearing, which reaffirms that Planned Parenthood and the three patients it recruited could not contest in federal court Arkansas's determination that a medical provider has engaged in misconduct that merits disqualification from the Medicaid program," Judd Deere, a spokesman for Rutledge, said in an email.
The rift over the contract issue brings to light the importance of judicial appointees - one area where President Trump has enjoyed success.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is currently made up of 11 seats, 8 of which are currently filled by Republican-appointed judges. Two seats are currently empty, and Trump has already submitted nominations for those seats for Congressional approval. Only one of the 11 seats is occupied by a Democratic appointee.
The US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, on the other hand, currently seats five active judges - three of whom were appointed by President Obama.
There is no word as yet whether Planned Parenthood Great Plains will continue in its efforts to restore the contract.
PPGP operates clinics in Little Rock and Fayetteville, and had received $51,000 in Medicaid funds from Arkansas during last year of the contract.