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Kansas Gov. Ends State Planned Parenthood Funding

TOPEKA, Kan. (CN) - Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced this week that the state will terminate Planned Parenthood's participation in the Kansas Medicaid program, blaming the cut on violations of moral conscience and trafficking of "baby body parts."

In his State of the State address on Tuesday, Brownback directed Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Susan Mosier to ensure that no taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood through the Kansas Medicaid Program.

Brownback issued a written statement defending his decision.

"Planned Parenthood's trafficking of baby body parts is antithetical to our belief in human dignity. No longer will we send the money of hard-working Kansans to fund an industry that disrespects life and violates the moral conscience of our people," Brownback said.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri denounced Brownback's Medicaid funding cut, calling it a "smoke and mirrors attempt to distract from his failed fiscal policies" in a statement.

"We refuse to serve as the governor's scapegoat while Kansas faces serious funding challenges in light of his weak and ineffectual fiscal policies," Laura McQuade, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said. "His plans to cut Medicaid to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri will result in a legal battle which Kansas simply cannot afford to fight."

Brownback has long been an outspoken abortion foe.

"Every year since I became governor we have enacted pro-life legislation," Brownback said in the address. "We have come a long way, but there is still work to be done."

Brownback's "baby body parts" comment referenced two controversial videos distributed last year by the anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress. The videos purported to show Planned Parenthood executives selling fetal tissue from aborted fetuses for profit.

Planned Parenthood aggressively denied the allegations, claimed the videos were highly edited and then commissioned an analysis that showed the videos were manipulated.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has no fetal donation program. Planned Parenthood affiliates in two states - California and Washington - offer patients the opportunity to donate fetal tissue for medical research but do not sell the tissue.

Despite those facts, Brownback last June ordered the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts to investigate the state's Planned Parenthood facilities. No results were released to the public. Investigations are confidential, a representative from the board told Courthouse News.

However, the Topeka Capitol Journal reported on Thursday that the Associated Press had obtained a copy of a letter clearing the organization.

"After careful review of the investigative materials, the panel determined no further action would be taken at this time; however the materials will be kept on file and reviewed again in the event future issues arise," disciplinary attorney Dan Riley wrote in the letter.

Planned Parenthood also came under scrutiny in neighboring Missouri last summer when Gov. Jay Nixon ordered an investigation into Missouri's two Planned Parenthood's locations that provide abortions, one in Columbia and the other in St. Louis. That investigation cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

Then in November, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services tried to revoke the Columbia location's license to perform abortions because the facility's doctor lost local hospital privileges. A judge blocked the revocation, but the Columbia clinic is currently not providing abortions while its doctor obtains local hospital privileges.

Meanwhile, patients at the only two Kansas Planned Parenthood locations in Wichita and Overland Park - the only location that provides abortions - face the fallout from the Medicaid cut.

No federal or state funds are allowed to pay for abortion services, so Medicaid cuts instead will affect low-income patients who depend on Planned Parenthood's Medicaid coverage of contraception services, breast exams, cancer screenings and wellness care.

Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer assured Kansas women that their medical needs will still be met by providers in the Medicaid and Medicare network.

"Planned Parenthood is attempting to mislead and frighten women into believing their health care services will suffer. This is not true," Colyer said in a written statement.

Brownback has already sent a letter to Mosier, directing her to "take all necessary steps to terminate Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and all associated medical providers."

Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana have also tried to cut Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood but failed when courts ruled the measures unconstitutional.

McQuade pledged to fight the Medicaid termination.

"Gov. Brownback emphasized independence as a fundamental value for all Kansans," she said. "That should apply equally to the 400,000 Kansans with Medicaid coverage who have the opportunity to choose Planned Parenthood for their health care.

"Kansans and their health care providers are not Mr. Brownback's punching bag and we will fight back."

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