Kansas Judge Sets Hearing on Planned Parenthood De-Funding Lawsuit

State   Steven Ertelt   Jul 12, 2011   |   1:17PM    Topeka, KS

A Kansas judge met with attorneys from the state and from Planned Parenthood today to set a hearing date for the lawsuit the abortion business filed to stop the state from revoking the taxpayer funding it current receives.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten set a hearing date for August 1 for the battle between Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and the state over the abortion giant’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop the law from taking effect.

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 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 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.

The state also indicates a non-abortion health clinic in Ellis County has agreed to accept some of the $331,000 total in federal funds the state doles out for family planning that Planned Parenthood normally receives.

Meanwhile, the papers the state filed with the federal court where Planned Parenthood sue make it clear that Planned Parenthood has not given a sufficient reason for why it deserves the funding. They say Planned Parenthood “has made no showing, nor could it, that family planning services will not be provided.”

The state has also asked that 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.

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.

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.”

An April poll conducted by the Polling Company and WomanTrend reveals a majority of Americans, 54 percent, oppose giving tax dollars for family planning services to organizations that perform abortions. The poll also  shows the intensity of this position, with 43 percent “strongly” opposing any federal funds going to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood, while just 20 percent “strongly” support federal funds going to abortion businesses.

In other states, Indiana approved a law de-funding Planned Parenthood, Texas Gov. Rick Perry followed suit and New Hampshire Planned Parenthood centers may close after the state revoked a $1.8 million grant. Montana Planned Parenthood is also grappling with funding cuts and one county in Tennessee de-funded Planned Parenthood.

North Carolina may see the closing of a Planned Parenthood center following de-funding and Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin is making cuts after the abortion business lose $1 million in taxpayer funding there.