A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Arkansas could block Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.
The ruling comes as more states and Congress try to defund the women's health and abortion provider.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson aimed to defund Planned Parenthood in 2015 after a series of undercover videos were released by anti-abortion activists. The videos showed employees discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue, and Republicans charged that Planned Parenthood profited from the sale of tissue, which is illegal.
No Planned Parenthood affiliate has been charged with any crime, and the group has said it will no longer charge a fee to reimburse the group for the cost of harvesting and transporting the material to a donor.
Arkansas' defunding order was quickly fought in court and blocked through an injunction by a lower court. A group of three Arkansas patients sued the state, saying it violated the federal right to choose a qualified Medicaid provider.
However, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the lawsuit from the three patients was unlikely to succeed. An injunction must be issued based on the likelihood of success, and therefore the lawsuit against Arkansas should be lifted, the court ruled.
The appeals court found that the patients didn't have a federal right to sue to keep Planned Parenthood funded. It found that the Medicaid provision to offer quality health plans is directed only at the federal agency charged with approving state Medicaid plans.
It added that Planned Parenthood can appeal the state's defunding decision.
Arkansas is among several states that have tried to defund Planned Parenthood, but courts have blocked many of the lawsuits.
A congressional effort to defund the organization has stalled in Congress after the defeat of legislation to repeal Obamacare in the Senate. The bill included a provision defunding Planned Parenthood for one year.