Planned Parenthood Can Keep Government Funding, Court Orders

A federal judge issued an injunction Monday on a Kansas law that denies groups like Planned Parenthood federal funding for abortions, stating that the group will likely succeed in having the law overturned.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten will save the Hays, Kansas Planned Parenthood $330,000 and allow it to remain open.

Under the law, family planning groups are forbidden from using federal funding in order to pay for abortions. Groups are still provided with money for other women’s health services such as pap smears, birth control, breast exams and gynecological exams, but federal family planning funds first go to hospitals and public health departments.

Without funding, Planned Parenthood argued that it would have to close its clinic in Hays, Kansas, subjecting 5,700 patients to having to travel to clinics farther away, having longer waiting times, higher costs and less access to accepted services.

Judge Thomas explained that he ruled in favor of the Planned Parenthood because the law is unconstitutional and a violation of the group’s first and fourteenth amendment rights.

“The purpose of the statute was to single out, punish and exclude Planned Parenthood,” Marten said.

The president of the Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri Peter Brownlie feels the current injunction will help the group throughout its case.

“We take comfort in the fact that the judge said we have a strong likelihood of prevailing on the merits when the full case is heard,” Brownlie said.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said he would appeal the ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

“It appears that the court declared a duly enacted Kansas statute unconstitutional without engaging in the fact-finding one would expect before reaching such a conclusion,” Schmidt said in a statement.

Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director for Kansans for Life, said the case centers on the issue of whether "the federal government has taken over complete control of health care allocations to benefit its own priorities, or whether the state can make its own prudent priorities," the Associated Press reported.

Planned Parenthood has sued in order to have the law overturned, but Marten’s injunction will allow the group to continue to receive federal Title X grant funding until they case is resolved.

Planned Parenthood and its supporters also argue that the law also goes against another federal law that states Medicaid patients cannot be denied access to their preferred health care provider. For many Kansas citizens with Medicaid, Planned Parenthood is their preferred health care provider.

The group feels that its clinics are being targeted due to its overall advocacy of abortion rights, but the clinic in question does not perform abortions. Planned Parenthoods in several states including Indiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin have had similar defunding actions filed against them.

On Monday, Indiana asked a federal appeals court to lift a judge's ruling to block a new abortion law that would cut off about $1.4 million to Planned Parenthood. The state argued that the issue should be handled by Medicaid officials, not the courts.

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