LITTLE ROCK — A federal judge heard arguments but did not immediately issue a ruling Thursday on a motion by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and three female patients for a temporary restraining order to bar Arkansas from terminating its contract with the health-care provider.

LITTLE ROCK — A federal judge heard arguments but did not immediately issue a ruling Thursday on a motion by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and three female patients for a temporary restraining order to bar Arkansas from terminating its contract with the health-care provider.


U.S. District Judge Kristene Baker said after a 90-minute hearing she would take the matter under advisement and issue a written ruling later. She said that if she grants the motion, the order will be effective for two weeks and she will decide later whether to grant a longer-lasting preliminary injunction that the plaintiffs also requested.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Aug. 14 he was directing the state Department of Human Services to cancel its contract with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, effective in 30 days. He said then the decision was in response to videos released by an anti-abortion group that showed undercover operatives talking to Planned Parenthood officials in other states about abortion procedures and the providing of human tissue to researchers.


Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and three patients identified as Jane Doe Nos. 1-3 filed a federal lawsuit Sept. 11 seeking to block the state from terminating the contract. Thursday’s hearing was the parties’ first day in court.


Jennifer Sandman, an attorney with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, argued during the hearing that federal law prohibits the state from excluding any qualified health-care provider from the Medicaid program. She told the judge "there has been no complaint about the quality of care" provided by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.


Sandman said the governor’s decision was based on edited videos concerning other Planned Parenthood affiliates, which she said are separate entities from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. She said that, among other things, the editing of the videos removed repeated statements that Planned Parenthood does not make a profit by providing tissue to researchers.


"The videos are edited deceptively in a way that entirely undermines their credibility," she said.


Sandman also said Planned Parenthood of the Heartland does not donate human tissue to researchers and does not perform types of abortions that would result in it obtaining tissue. Its clinics in Fayetteville and Little Rock administer abortion pills but do not perform surgical abortions, she said.


Arkansas Solicitor General Lee Rudofsky argued that the videos raise concerns about the possibility that Planned Parenthood may be selling human tissue for a profit and altering abortion procedures to ensure it obtains tissue it can sell. One video suggests that tissue was taken from an aborted fetus while its heart was still beating, he said.


"Very, very concerning issues are present in the case," he said, and urged Baker to "watch the videos."


The videos suggest that Planned Parenthood does not meet the standards that Arkansas expects of a Medicaid-funded health-care provider, so the state was legally justified in terminating the contract, Rudofsky argued. He said Planned Parenthood "is clearly a coordinated entity."


The lawyers also argued over whether the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm if a temporary protective order were not issued.


Rudofsky said there would be no irreparable harm because Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has up to 365 days to submit receipts to Medicaid for reimbursement. If necessary, its patients could obtain similar services from other providers, he said.


Sandman said that without a restraining order, the nonprofit organization would have to decide between turning patients away or treating them at significant financial risk. She also said it is not clear that its patients could find the same services elsewhere without going to multiple providers, encountering difficulty making appointments and enduring long waits to obtain care.


Baker did not say when she would issue a ruling.