Kansas has a reputation as a battleground on abortion issues and a new war has just begun as Planned Parenthood is suing to stop the state from taking money away from agencies that perform abortions.
The suit was filed by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri in federal court Monday and seeks to bar Kansas from redirecting money to state and local health clinics.
“It’s disappointing that instead of focusing on expanding family planning and sex education programs, we’re once again having to spend time responding to politically motivated health care attacks,” Peter Brownlie, Planned Parenthood’s local president told the Kansas City Star.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback added a provision into the 2012 state budget that redistributes Title X funds, which traditionally go toward what Planned Parenthood calls “family-planning” activities.
The governor’s budget was passed with almost no controversy.
Federal dollars cannot be used for abortions, but former employees such as Abby Johnson, who are familiar with Planned Parenthood activities and financial practices accuse the agency of funneling federal and state dollars to abortion procedures.
“The law currently says the plaintiff does not qualify for public subsidy because of its business practices, and Kansas taxpayers have made it clear they do not wish to underwrite organizations that perform abortions. We will uphold the law,” Brownback said in defending his state’s position.
The bulk of the funds in question goes to Planned Parenthood and is sent to clinics in Wichita and Hays, Kansas, which serve approximately 5,700 people annually. The two clinics in question are among nine that are operated by the Kansas and Mid-Missouri operations.
Planned Parenthood maintains that the funds are used exclusively for “family-planning” services for low-income women and any reduction in funds will deprive women of needed health services.
Not so, says Mary Ann Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life.
“First, no one is saying Planned Parenthood cannot have money for health care or family-planning services. Under this law they just can’t have all the state money available,” said Culp. “The reality is, these funds are a major part of Planned Parenthood operations. They use these funds to keep receptionists out front and the doors open until 8 p.m. or so. They’re also performing abortions whenever their doors are open.”
Culp said under the new law, state dollars will go to more clinics that serve the entire family and comprehensive health care – thus benefiting more people throughout the state.
The funds in question make up about one-third to one-half of Planned Parenthood’s budgets in Hays and Wichita, according to Brownlie.
The Kansas legislature also passed four new restrictions on abortion this year. One such measure establishes new licensing requirements for abortion clinics. A Kansas City, Kan., clinic has already received notice they will not be licensed.
Lawmakers in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Indiana have also passed measures that will take money away from Planned Parenthood.