by Steven Ertelt
August 9, 2006
Jefferson City, MO (LifeNews.com) — The Missouri Planned Parenthood abortion business doesn’t have to repay the state about $900,000 in wasn’t supposed to receive in family planning funds. That’s the decision of the Missouri Supreme Court, which overturned a judge’s ruling who said the abortion business owed the money.
County Circuit Judge Werner Moentmann ruled in June of last year that a prohibition on state family planning dollars going to affiliates of abortion businesses was constitutional.
He said the state Health Department wrongly awarded the money to Planned Parenthood despite language in the state budget preventing family planning dollars from going to abortion facilities.
But the state’s high court reversed him Tuesday on a 4-3 ruling.
The high court said there was no legal ground to justify making Planned Parenthood pay back the taxpayer money.
Chief Justice Michael Wolff said the contracts for the grants could not be voided because the director of the state health department was legally allowed to enter into them. He said the government couldn’t gain the services rendered under the contracts and then force the recipient to repay the funds.
Judges Laura Denvir Stith, Ronnie White and Richard Teitelman joined him in the decision while Judges Stephen Limbaugh Jr., William Ray Price Jr. and Mary Russell dissented.
The dissenters said the contracts should have been voided immediately after they were found to be in violation of the state budget requirements and that Planned Parenthood should repay the money it was wrongly given.
“We’re obviously just thrilled, grateful, relieved with today’s decision,” Paula Gianino, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, told the Associated Press.
Gov. Matt Blunt was critical of the decision and said it “undermines the Legislature’s ability to spend tax dollars in accord with the values of Missourians," according to an AP report. He said Planned Parenthood should have repaid the funds.
The battle over the money has gone on for years and a similar lawsuit made its way to the state Supreme Court before being dismissed.
The state stopped awarding the family planning grants in 2004 and Planned Parenthood received no money in the state’s 2005 annual budget.