Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has announced his intent to sign Indiana's H.B. 1210, a measure which would, among other things, prevent Title X Medicaid funds from being used facilities that provide abortions. When the bill becomes law, Indiana will become the third state to have such a provision, following Texas (which passed "Rider 8" in 2003) and Missouri (which passed a nearly identical law in 1999).
Although the intent of the law is laudable, it would be inaccurate to say that the bills "defund Planned Parenthood," as is commonly being reported in the media. As the Alliance Defense Fund has noted (pdf warning), the overall effect of the bill will essentially merely require some administrative paper shuffling on Planned Parenthood's part. In fact, that is the central feature of the law that will likely save it from a challenge on Supremacy Clause grounds:
Because Rider 8's language, like the language of H.B. 1210, could be read to permit family planning agencies to continue to receive funds by creating separate affiliates, in the court's words by "dividing into 'Family Planning' entities and 'Abortion Services' entities, it did not run afoul of federal law. . . .
The Texas lawsuit was subsequently dismissed after Planned Parenthood unilaterally complied with the requirements of Rider 8 by incorporating six separate, independent affiliates for the provision of abortion services, transferring the abortion licenses to those facilities, and agreeing to maintain accounting, timekeeping, and boards of directors separate from the family planning services providers.
In other words, unlike Christie's budgetary aggression in New Jersey, the Indiana law is unlikely to have the effect of actually resulting in the closing of any abortion clinics. However, it will accomplish two important objectives:
- It will reduce the amount of tax dollars spent on abortion, which is important for conscience reasons alone.
- It will probably reduce somewhat the number of abortions (probably by a relatively small number), as Indiana abortion clinics will now be forced to price all abortions at such a level that they are profitable without the aid of government largesse.
UPDATE: RedState has received the following statement from Michael J. Norton, Senior Defense Counsel from the Alliance Defense Fund:
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels should be commended for announcing his intention to sign into law the Schneider Amendment (H.B. 1210). Tax dollars of the people of Indiana should not be funneled to abortionists, especially during tough economic times. Indiana has worded a bill that allows them to be good stewards of the people’s money in this regard without fear of jeopardizing other funding that is clearly not at issue in this bill. The Schneider Amendment states that no state agency may enter into a contract with or make a grant to "any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed that involves the expenditure of state funds or federal funds administered by the state.” If the bill becomes law, the State of Indiana would not be imposing conditions inconsistent with federal guidelines as some people allege, but instead would merely be applying its own congruent conditions for eligibility for qualified provider status under Medicaid. Similar provisions have been upheld by courts. The Schneider Amendment is good public policy to protect life as well as taxpayer resources.
Some have contended that this vote will provide a clear signal as to Daniels' intentions with respect to a Presidential run. I am not as convinced that this is the case. Daniels has always been a reliable pro-lifer, and his vote here merely puts him in line with the overwhelming majority of Americans (including a substantial portion of Democrats) who oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. Furthermore, he has done no backpedaling (public or otherwise) from his stated position that he neither needs or wants the votes of voters who are primarily social conservatives. And he has still not taken any of the preliminary steps that would be expected for a candidate at this stage.
In the end, though, the politics of this decision should take a second seat to far more important goal of extricating the goverment from the business of providing abortions - and the passage of this bill accomplishes a small but symbolically meaningful step in that regard.