PA’s Supreme Court says state-sponsored Medicaid CAN cover abortions

29 January 2024- In a decision that has been in the works since 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided 3-2 that the Abortion Control Act, which prohibits publicly funded healthcare under Medicaid from covering abortions.

That act, which had stood for 42 years, prevented funding of abortions in which the life of a mother was not at risk. Additionally, it had carve outs for rape and incest cases, which continue to be an issue around the country.

Since the decision, Pennsylvania House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) issued the following statement on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in Allegheny County Reproductive Health Center v. PA Department of Human Services:

“Regardless of how one feels on the underlying subject matter, today’s decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is another activist decision that has the court seeking to overstep its authority and change well-settled law.

“Pennsylvania law already allows public funds to be used to pay for abortions in case of incest, rape or to protect the life of the mother. This decision, supported by only part of the seven-member court, eviscerates the past, well-established precedent of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and opens the door for tax dollars to pay for all elective abortions.

“Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act is the gold standard for a middle ground and compromise over reproductive rights law. It was passed with bipartisan support and signed by a Democratic governor. The court opening this law does nothing but further the divide over such a sensitive topic and will only lead to more mischief and bad faith where lawmakers and other elected officials should be leading with respect and understanding.

“I am also extremely frustrated by this opinion’s continued narrowing of legislative standing to intervene in cases like this one. As those who are responsible for creating laws as a reflection of the voice of the people, lawmakers have a vested interest when those laws are challenged in court. 

“The ability for legislators to intervene in these cases, when enacted laws are questioned in court, allows lawmakers the ability to not only defend the process by which they were enacted but follow through on the legislative prerogative as the primary lawmaking body in our system of government. Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court once again severely limited the Legislature’s voice in defending the laws they created through our constitutional process.”