A federal judge canceled the hearing scheduled for today in a lawsuit the Planned Parenthood abortion business filed against the state of Kansas for passing a law revoking its taxpayer funding.
The Planned Parenthood abortion business is suing the state of Kansas over the passage of a new law that re-directs taxpayer funding from it to local health departments. But that hasn’t stopped the state from sending most of its funding elsewhere.
The state had asked hat the hearing slated for Friday be canceled, because it only hired its law firm to defend the legislation on Thursday and needs more time to prepare the case. The state told the court that it has 30 days to cancel its decisions to send the Planned Parenthood tax money elsewhere before the money is actually doled out to the non-abortion health clinics.
Today, according to AP, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten agreed to cancel the hearing and said he would meet with attorneys next week before announcing a new date,
That means the initial implementation of the law can continue and state officials have already yanked most of the money the abortion business normally received.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has already shifted $204,000 in taxpayer funding previously meant for the abortion business to the Sedgwick County health department to expand its family planning services without doing abortions. New records the Associated Press obtained indicated that the funds were sent to the health department three days after Planned Parenthood filed its lawsuit over a law pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback signed to revoke its taxpayer funding.
Neither James Armstrong, a Wichita attorney representing the governor and the state’s secretary of health and environment in the lawsuit, nor attorneys for Planned Parenthood responded to a request from AP to comment. The state also indicates a non-abortion health clinic in Ellis County has agreed to accept some of the $331,000 in federal funds the state doles out for family planning that Planned Parenthood normally receives.
The law shifts funding away from the Planned Parenthood abortion business and stops abortion funding in health insurance programs. The legislation follows a new law in Indiana that made the state the first to yank millions from Planned Parenthood by cutting off its revenue stream from Medicaid. The Kansas Senate passed the measure on a 28-10 vote and the state House followed suit with an 86-30 vote.
The insurance portion of the legislation prohibits private health insurance companies from forcing enrollees to pay for abortions and it makes those who want to potentially have abortion coverage pay for an insurance rider. It also ensures abortions can’t be paid for with taxpayer dollars through the state exchanges set up under the federal Obamacare health care law.
On Planned Parenthood, the measure has the state budget directing over $300,000 in Title 10 money to local full-service health clinics instead of Planed Parenthood and it places $300,000 into the Stan Clark grant-matched fund for pregnancy support and adoption counseling.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas that alleges the budget provision violates the pro-abortion group’s free speech and due process rights. The lawsuit names Brownback and Robert Moser, his secretary of health and environment, as defendants.
The budget provisions say the state’s portion of the federal family planning taxpayer funds must go first to public health agencies — a similar approach to de-funding Planned Parenthood that Tennessee is using but one that differs from the Indiana approach of cutting all funding under Medicaid to Planned Parenthood directly. A federal judge agreed to Planned Parenthood Indiana’s request to stop the law there while the lawsuit moves forward.
“Unfortunately, Governor Brownback and his allies in the legislature put the health of thousands of their constituents at risk by eliminating funding for a trusted community health care provider,” said Peter Brownlie, the Planned Parenthood abortion business affiliate’s president and chief executive officer, according to AP. “Women in Kansas need better access to affordable, high quality health care, not politically-motivated barriers.”
Mary Kay Culp, the director of Kansans for Life, responded, telling LifeNews: “Planned Parenthood is doing everything it can to divert attention away from the fact that the criminal charges against them are going back to court here in July, after being stalled for two years by the actions of former Kansas Attorney General, Steve Six, who is now a controversial nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals.”
“If found guilty of the felonies they are charged with, they will lose much more than Kansas Title X money,” Culp said. “It is just plain bad practice to give tax dollars to prevent pregnancies to an organization that makes more money when they fail to do so.”
Kansas gets about $2.9 million in Title X funds for family planning services and, although the money can’t pay for abortions, pro-life advocates have opposed sending it to the abortion business because it is fungible.
Olathe state Rep. Lance Kinzer told the Kansas City Star, the provision cutting Planned Parenthood funding “is consistent with the general will of the people in Kansas and it sends an important message with respect to where the vast majority of Kansas are with respect to any tax dollars spent by Planned Parenthood. I think if we can provide those Title X services through an entity like county health departments that everybody has confidence in and aren’t providing abortions then there is really no downside to providing those services in that fashion.”
Kathy Ostrowski of Kansans for Life described to LifeNews how the budget provision works.
“The Kansas budget directs that family planning services financed in any way under “Title X” federal rules must be contracted primarily with public health clinics and secondarily with qualified non-public hospitals or health centers that provide comprehensive health care–primary and preventative,” she said. “In plain language, Kansas wants to support the local health clinics that see patients of all ages and provide a wide range of services including immunizations, screenings, physicals, and referrals. These health clinics are easily accessible, important to a community and serve the poor. By definition of their limited practices, Planned Parenthood fails in this mission.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has since signed a budget cutting Planned Parenthood funding and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is about to follow suit. New Hampshire cut Planned Parenthood funding by $1.8 million but must re-vote on that effort.