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Appeals court refuses to reconsider ruling that allows Arkansas to defund Planned Parenthood

(Reuters/Ilana Panich-Linsman)Planned Parenthood South Austin Health Center is seen in Austin, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2016.

A federal appeals court has declined to hear Planned Parenthood's appeal over a previous ruling that allowed Arkansas to discontinue Medicaid funding to the abortion provider.

In August, a three-judge panel of the Eight U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had overturned a federal judge's preliminary injunction that prevented Arkansas from blocking Medicaid payments for services rendered to patients in the state.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains and three patients had appealed to the full court, but their request was denied on Monday, allowing the panel's ruling to stand.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who ended the state's Medicaid contract with the group in 2015, hailed the ruling in a statement.

"It is important for the state to have the clear authority to terminate Medicaid providers who act in unethical ways and in violation of state policy," the governor said.

"The decision early on to terminate Planned Parenthood as a provider was the right decision, and I am delighted with the decision of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in affirming the right of the State to take this action," he added.

Arkansas lawmakers voted to defund Planned Parenthood in 2015 following the release of undercover videos that purport to show the abortion provider's involvement in the illegal sales of aborted baby body parts.

According to The Associated Press (AP), the abortion giant had received $51,000 in Medicaid fund in the fiscal year before the governor decided to terminate the contract.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker had initially ordered Arkansas to continue the payments to the three patients who sued, and later expanded the order to all residents who seek to obtain services from Planned Parenthood.

However, the three-judge panel reversed the order, saying the unnamed patients suing the state did not have the right to challenge the defunding decision. Planned Parenthood contended that a review by the full court was necessary because the panel's ruling conflicts with other appeals court decision.

The full court's two-page order did not elaborate on the reason for refusing to hear the appeal. AP noted that the ruling will not take effect until the court issues its mandate in the case in the next few weeks. Planned Parenthood Great Plains said it will "evaluate" all of its legal options, but it has not indicated whether it will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Planned Parenthood Great Plains is committed to ensuring all patients in Arkansas retain the right to choose their provider, no matter their socioeconomic status. While we evaluate all of our legal options and next steps, PPGP will keep fighting for our patients in Little Rock and Fayetteville to have access to critical services," Aaron Samulcek, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said in a statement.

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