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A federal judge on Friday ordered Arkansas to temporarily reinstate its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood after the state blocked funding over concerns about secretly recorded videos released by an anti-abortion group.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker in Little Rock granted Planned Parenthood of the Heartland's request to block for 14 days the state from denying funding to the organization. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month announced he was terminating the contract.
The state's cancellation of the contract took effect Sunday, and Planned Parenthood says it would have affected Medicaid patients scheduled to visit its health centers starting Sept. 21.
The state says Planned Parenthood received more than $51,000 in Medicaid payments in Arkansas over the past fiscal year for family planning and gynecological services. None of the money went toward abortions.
Arkansas is among several states that have moved to block Medicaid funding because of the videos. Planned Parenthood has filed similar lawsuits in Louisiana and Alabama challenging the defunding moves. The U.S. Justice Department has argued that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision to cut off Medicaid funds to the group appeared to violate federal law.
"At this stage of the proceedings, the court finds that the threat of irreparable harm to PPH and Jane Does, and the public interest, outweighs the immediate interests and potential injuries to (the state)," Baker wrote.
On Tuesday the Agriculture Department said it will stop providing benefits the first several days of October if Congress does not pass legislation to keep government agencies open.