That’s one way of describing what is now happening in Indiana.
A looming showdown over Indiana’s new law that cuts funding for the Planned Parenthood organization may test how far Republican-led states are willing to go in pressing their tough new anti-abortion agendas.
The stakes are high. The future of health care for more than 1 million poor and elderly Indiana residents hangs in the balance.
Indiana became the first state this year to cut off all government funds to Planned Parenthood, fulfilling conservatives’ goal of financially weakening organizations that provide abortions. Other conservative states have considered such action in recent years but backed away under the threat of loss of all federal money for their Medicaid programs.
The willingness of Indiana, led by a Republican governor and GOP-controlled Legislature, to challenge the federal government and risk a huge financial penalty could take the issue into uncharted legal and political territory. Conservative leaders in other states will be watching the confrontation as they plan their own action on abortion and other social issues.
“I think this is an instance in which a state is really trying to overturn national policy and in so doing is likely to forego federal funding,” said Christopher Arterton, professor of political management at George Washington University and an expert on federal-state issues.
Is Indiana willing to risk $4.3 billion in Medicaid money to strike a blow for the right-to-life movement? Some conservative members of Republican-controlled legislatures argue it’s time for states to risk serious penalties to defend their principles and throw off federal mandates. And the Medicaid program, with its rising costs and strict rules, has been a particular target of ire.
Is the Obama administration actually willing to leave low-income families without health care to punish a defiant state?
“Like any game of chicken, it’s about who blinks first,” said Ed Haislmaier, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy, a conservative think-tank.