After June’s preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle has made a final decision to block Florida from denying taxpayer dollars to organizations on the basis that they provide abortions.
The original block had been issued, following legal challenge from Planned Parenthood, just hours before the law was to take effect. According to Hinkle, the policy was “based not on any objection to how the funds are being spent…but solely because the recipients of the funds choose to provide abortions separate and apart from any public funding.”
However, even though tax subsidies cannot be spent directly on abortions, they do free up funds from other revenue sources for abortion services. Increased federal subsidies to Planned Parenthood by $326,400,000 between 2000 and 2013 led to a 66% increase in the number of abortions performed by the organization.
Hinkle also contends that the “Supreme Court has repeatedly said that a government cannot prohibit indirectly — by withholding otherwise-available public funds — conduct that the government could not constitutionally prohibit directly.” However, the logic of this claim would mean organizations have a constitutional right to taxpayers’ money, something which has no basis in the Constitution. Further, states routinely deem organizations ineligible for government subsidies without controversy.
State attorneys have also disputed that contention, noting that declining to subsidize Planned Parenthood does not impede or interfere with their ability to offer and perform abortions.
Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Republican Governor Rick Scott, says the administration is reviewing whether to appeal the decision, although such an appeal could be limited by a prior agreement under which the state cannot introduce new arguments or evidence.