Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a lower court's ruling that stopped South Carolina from denying Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood as long as it provided abortions.
The lawsuit was filed in 2018 after Republican Governor Henry McMaster ordered state officials to end the organization's participation in the state Medicaid program by declaring any abortion provider, including Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, unqualified to provide family planning services.
In the now vacated ruling from 2022, the 4th Circuit favored Planned Parenthood.
"To allow the state to disqualify Planned Parenthood would nullify Congress's manifest intent to provide our less fortunate citizens the opportunity to select a medical provider of their choice, an opportunity that the most fortunate routinely enjoy," the 4th Circuit said.
However, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing South Carolina, says under 1960s law, the state has the right to make that determination.
Attorney Chris Schandevel says ADF is "very confident that we are correct in our legal argument" that pro-life states like South Carolina cannot be forced to subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood using taxpayer dollars.
He says ADF is "grateful" the 4th Circuit has the opportunity to rehear the case.
If South Carolina gets an unfavorable ruling this time around, then the Christian legal advocacy group will take it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"What's happening in South Carolina is Planned Parenthood has been given a choice. They can choose to stop performing abortions – and if they were to make that choice, they would continue to receive taxpayer dollars – or they can choose to continue to do abortions, thereby disqualifying themselves from receiving taxpayer funds," Schandevel explains. "They have made their choice to insist on continuing to do abortion, continuing to end life."
South Carolina, however, believes that healthcare should be life-affirming. It is one of numerous Republican-led states that have moved to ban or restrict abortion since last summer, when the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 decision that had legalized the procedure nationwide for decades.
So as long as Planned Parenthood continues to make that choice, the attorney says "it makes sense that a pro-life state like South Carolina can decide to redirect their taxpayer funds to healthcare entities that support and affirm life."