US Supreme Court rejects state efforts to block abortion funding

The US Supreme Court on Monday blocked an effort by some states to halt public abortion funding, even though three of the conservative justices wanted the case to be heard.

Louisiana and Kansas had asked the highest court in the land to intervene after losing their case against leading family planning group Planned Parenthood before federal judges.

The Supreme Court left in place lower court decisions that found that states violate federal law when they terminate Medicaid contracts for Planned Parenthood. It provides family planning care for low-income women.

“States may not terminate providers from their Medicaid program for any reason they see fit, especially when that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the health care it provides,” a panel of judges on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held in February.

In order for the case to be heard at the Supreme Court, at least four of the nine justices would have had to agree. But only three backed such a hearing — conservatives Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito.

“So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here?” asked Thomas, speaking for the trio.

“I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood.’ That makes the Court’s decision particularly troubling, as the question presented has nothing to do with abortion.”

Abortion remains a hot button in the United States, where the Supreme Court legalised abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, with many measures being implemented in recent years to complicate access to services to terminate a pregnancy.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to name anti-abortion conservatives to the high court, hinting at possibly overturning the landmark ruling.

His nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh now sit on the bench.

© Agence France-Presse

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