Pennsylvania Supreme Court Sets Up Showdown on Medicaid Abortion Ban

David Cohen, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, told The New Republic that the Pennsylvania government has a “very high bar” to clear to justify Medicaid excluding abortion coverage after this ruling.

The government must prove it has a “compelling state interest” in prohibiting Medicaid from covering abortion, and no other “less intrusive methods” to implement the policy, Cohen, who is also a constitutional law professor at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law, explained. The “least intrusive method” is a way of analyzing laws to determine whether they do the least amount of harm possible in achieving the measure’s stated goal.

“The court said that [the law] is a form of sex discrimination and that sex discrimination under the state’s Equal Rights Amendment needs to be very strictly scrutinized,” Cohen said. “But it’s not an absolute bar. It’s not like the court didn’t say all sex discrimination is prohibited. It’s just a very difficult hurdle for the state to overcome.”

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