A showdown between the Jindal administration and Planned Parenthood supporters over loss of Medicaid funding failed Thursday to live up to publicized expectations.
Only about 50 people gathered in a field across the street from the Governor’s Mansion for the protest of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to stop Planned Parenthood’s reimbursement for health care services.
Outside the mansion gates, at Jindal’s counterdemonstration, the governor’s aides played controversial undercover videos released by an anti-abortion group that alleges Planned Parenthood facilities engage in selling fetal body parts. But the soundtrack wasn’t clear, and bright sunlight washed out the images on the screen.
Jindal is on the campaign trail and said Planned Parenthood supporters were welcome to protest. “We hope the protesters will take an minute to watch (the videos), so they’ll have an opportunity to see first-hand our concerns with Planned Parenthood practices,” Jindal said in a statement.
“Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life,” Jindal said as justification for the move.
The tent was outside the range for protesters to be able to see or hear the videos. As the videos played over and over in the distant background, a series of speakers blasted Jindal for putting politics ahead of health care and talked about the services Planned Parenthood facilities in Baton Rouge and New Orleans provide, such as wellness exams; cancer screenings; sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment; and birth control. Neither facility performs abortions.
“These political tactics have been tried in other states and have not worked. We are here to say these tactics won’t work in Louisiana,” Planned Parenthood state Director Melissa Flournoy said about defunding attempts.
“I’m just sick and tired of the cuts in health care of Jindal,” said Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle. “It appears to me he has an attack on health care.”
Planned Parenthood Louisiana facilities received about $300,000 last fiscal year for services delivered as a Medicaid provider. The clinics served more than 5,000 women and men.
A new Planned Parenthood health center is under construction in New Orleans, and officials have said they will apply for a license for an abortion clinic associated with it.
The 4:30 p.m. rally protested Jindal’s decision to no longer allow Planned Parenthood Louisiana to be a Medicaid provider. Jindal’s decision came in response to the videos, which have been released over a period of weeks as part of a national push to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding.
Planned Parenthood officials have said the videos have been distorted through editing and no such activity goes on.
The federal health agency has warned Louisiana officials that canceling the Medicaid provider agreement would violate federal regulations by eliminating patient choice just because the organization provides legal abortions. Efforts in Arizona and Indiana to bar Planned Parenthood from Medicaid have been blocked by federal courts.
Louisiana claims its provider agreement with Planned Parenthood can be canceled at will by either party with 30 days’ notice and that the decision had nothing to do with the abortion issue.
Earlier Thursday, Flournoy said Jindal’s “video screening stunt” is proof “that he’s always ready to put politics before Louisianians health.”
Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Benjamin Clapper applauded Jindal’s showing of the videos. “Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (of which Louisiana is a part) and its supporters have ignored the atrocious videos that have shown their own leaders complicit in the sale of baby body parts of unborn babies,” Clapper said. “They sidestep and place the focus on their false claims that access to health care will fall apart in Louisiana if Planned Parenthood does not have a Medicaid contract.”
Clapper said there are plenty of health care providers that offer the services.