The Supreme Court Monday rebuffed efforts by states to block funding to Planned Parenthood.
It left in place two lower court opinions that said that states violate federal law when they terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood affiliates who offer preventive care for low income women.
It would have taken four justices to agree to hear the issue, and only three conservative justices -- Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch -- voted to hear the case.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh appeared to side with the court's liberals in not taking up the case -- showing an effort to avoid high-profile abortion-related issues for now.
Roberts and Kavanaugh "likely have serious objections," said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. "But such votes seem to be a signal that they would rather avoid contentious, high-profile disputes for now, at least where possible."
The case concerned whether states can block Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates that provide such women with annual health screens, contraceptive coverage and cancer screening.
Thomas wrote a dissent for the three conservatives, saying the court isn't doing its job.
"What explains the Court's refusal to do its job here?" Thomas wrote.
"I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named Planned Parenthood," he wrote.
"But these cases are not about abortion rights," he said. "They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act. Resolving the question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood's ability to challenge the states' decisions; it concerns only the rights of individual Medicaid patients to bring their own suits."
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