Involvement of the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation in a Lawsuit Related to Medicaid Reimbursements for Abortions

HRD-77-130: Published: Aug 3, 1977. Publicly Released: Aug 3, 1977.

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The involvement of a Legal Services Corporation grantee in a lawsuit against the State of Louisiana on behalf of two women seeking Medicaid reimbursement for abortions performed in other than State-licensed hospitals does not violate the prohibitions on abortions in the Legal Services Corporation Act of 1974.

The Louisiana licensure law for physicians states that a license may be refused, suspended, or revocation proceedings instituted for performing a therapeutic abortion outside a State-licensed hospital. Since the policy of Louisiana's Medicaid program to pay for therapeutic abortions only when performed in a licensed hospital is based on the license law, the lawsuit is directed against the law and hence the State. The prohibition contained in the Legal Services Corporation Act of 1974 against the use of funds made available under the Act to provide legal assistance with respect to lawsuits seeking to procure nontherapeutic abortions does not appear to apply in this case, nor does it appear that the prohibition against compelling any individual or institution to perform or assist in an abortion is applicable, since the physicians and clinics are willing to proceed. Attorneys for the State of Louisiana have conceded that the State is required to provide Medicaid payments for therapeutic abortions performed in clinics and has agreed to do so in the future without a court order.

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