North Carolina Wages War|on Planned Parenthood

GREENSBORO, N.C. (CN) – Waging war on abortion, North Carolina cut funding for “vital health services” for tens of thousands of poor and uninsured patients who do not even want an abortion, Planned Parenthood says in a constitutional complaint.

     Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina seeks a federal injunction to stop the state from defunding three of its clinics.
     The clinics provide “Pap smears and other cancer screenings, contraceptive counseling, pregnancy testing and related services, and screenings for HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted infections.”
     “PPCNC also provides abortion services; in providing these services, PPCNC has always scrupulously adhered to the restrictions imposed by federal and state law on the use of governmental funds to provide abortions,” the complaint states.
     But “On June 15, 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted, over Governor Perdue’s veto, a budget for fiscal years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 that prohibits the State’s ‘Department of Health and Human Services [from] provid[ing] State funds or other funds administered by the Department for contracts or grants to Planned Parenthood, Inc., and affiliated organizations.’ N.C. Sess. Laws 2011-145 § 10.19 (‘Section 10.19’). This measure singles out and categorically disqualifies any Planned Parenthood affiliate, including PPCNC, from continuing to receive state and federal funds that it is otherwise eligible and qualified to receive, and which, as noted, are used to provide vital health services to thousands of people in North Carolina.” (Brackets in complaint.)
     Section 10.9 was designed to punish Planned Parenthood for its legal provision of abortion services and advocacy of abortion rights, the organization says.
     “Section 10.9 exacts an extreme punishment – total disqualification from various state and federal funding streams – even though the eliminated funds have nothing to do with abortion, but will only deprive low-income people of much needed health and teen pregnancy prevention services,” the complaint states.
     Planned Parenthood runs bilingual clinics in Chapel Hill, Durham and Fayetteville, N.C. The clinics provided 7,000 women with nonabortion family-planning services last year; 70 percent of the patients are uninsured.
     The clinics rely on federal grants to provide family planning for poor people, to reduce teen pregnancy and provide contraception. They receive $125,000 annually from the Title X program, $75,000 from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, and a $12,000 Women’s Health Grant. None of the grant programs exclude applicants that provide abortion services.
     “Nor, by the admission of its sponsors, does Section 10.19 have any budgetary impact: the Title X funds diverted from PPCNC are federal monies which have no impact on the state budget, and the state funds diverted from PPCNC are theoretically available to other organizations. However, no other existing organization in the region comes close to matching PPCNC’s high quality of care, accessibility, and expertise in the services it provides,” according to the complaint.
     Planned Parenthood says losing the grants will leave poor people with nowhere to turn for vital health care and teen pregnancy programs.
     It seeks declaratory judgment that Section 10.9 violates the Constitution’s Supremacy, Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the First and 14th Amendments, and is an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder, “in that it punishes PPCNC based on alleged acts for which there has been no judicial trial.”
     Planned Parenthood wants enforcement enjoined.
     Its lead counsel is Catherine Lee with Allen and Pinnix of Raleigh, N.C.

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