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Kansas Can’t Yank Funds From Planned Parenthood

TOPEKA, Kan. (CN) — A federal judge has restrained Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback from killing his state's Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson restrained and enjoined Brownback on Tuesday, saying Kansas cannot cancel Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM) and Planned Parenthood St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri (PPSLR).

"It is uncontroverted that PPKM and PPSLR serve hundreds of underprivileged women in the State of Kansas," Robinson wrote in the 54-page order.

"It is in the public interest to allow these individuals to be treated by the qualified provider of their choice, and to have that provider reimbursed under Medicaid pending a trial on the merits in this case."

Brownback signed legislation in 2011 to try to kill state funding of Planned Parenthood, one of a series of moves the Republican governor has made that drew national headlines.

In 2015, an antiabortion group released doctored YouTube videos that they claimed showed Planned Parenthood employees in other states discussing sale of fetal tissue. The videos led to calls for state and congressional investigations of Planned Parenthood — calls that continued even after the videos were revealed as heavily edited.

Kansas investigated, and the Disciplinary Panel of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts concluded that no action should be taken against Planned Parenthood.

The Missouri Attorney General's Office came to a similar conclusion, regarding PPSLR.

Brownback nonetheless accused Planned Parenthood of "noncompliance with applicable state laws," and "unethical or unprofessional conduct." He claimed, among other things, that Planned Parenthood's Overland Park facility interfered with a state waste inspector who was trying to take photographs.

Brownback in January ordered his Secretary of the Department of Health to kill funding for Planned Parenthood.

"In 2011, I signed legislation stopping most taxpayer funding from going to Planned Parenthood," Brownback said in a statement on Jan. 12. "The time has come to finish the job. Planned Parenthood's trafficking of baby body parts is antithetical to our belief in human dignity. Today, I am directing Secretary Susan Mosier to ensure that not a single dollar of taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood through our Medicaid program. I welcome legislation that would enshrine this directive in state law."

On March 10, Secretary Mosier notified PPKM and PPSLR that Kansas was terminating their participation in Medicaid. Planned Parenthood received final notices of termination on May 3 and sued Kansas the next day.

Judge Robinson's preliminary injunction adds to a growing list of court victories for Planned Parenthood, in Florida, Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Texas.

"Yet another court has said it is unacceptable for politicians to dictate where women can go for their health care," Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said in a statement.

"This case is about the people who rely on us for basic care every day. We'll continue fighting in Florida, Indiana, Kansas, and anywhere else there are efforts to block our patients from the care they need."

Brownback refused to give up.

"The governor will continue the fight to make Kansas a pro-life state," his spokeswoman said in a statement "We will review today's preliminary ruling and move forward with the litigation."

Judge Robinson was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2001. She is a fourth-generation Kansan and the first black judge in its federal district.

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