Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Year : 2, Issue : 5
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court said Monday that a lower court must hear a challenge to the constitutionality of a decades-old state law that limits the use of Medicaid dollars to cover the cost of abortions, a major victory for Planned Parenthood and the abortion clinic operators who sued.
The decision also elicited hope that the state Supreme Court may one day find a right to abortion in Pennsylvania’s constitution after the U.S. Supreme Court ended nearly a half-century of federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade.
The 3-2 decision both overturns a lower court decision to dismiss the case on procedural grounds and puts aside a 1985 state Supreme Court decision that upheld a law banning the use of state Medicaid dollars for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
The high court’s majority said Monday in a 219-page decision that prior court decisions did not fully consider the breadth of state constitutional protections against discrimination, beyond those provided by the federal constitution.
The lawsuit, brought in 2019 by Planned Parenthood and other operators of abortion clinics, said the 1982 law unconstitutionally discriminates against poor women.
Women who get an abortion receive no government funding for the reproductive care they seek, while women who carry to term receive full coverage, the majority opinion said. Seventeen other states cover abortion in their state Medicaid programs, the court said.