Utah Ordered to Fund Planned Parenthood

     SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Planned Parenthood’s Utah chapter will continue receiving federal funds, a federal judge ruled – barring the state’s governor from defunding the organization amid heated talks on Capitol Hill.
     Planned Parenthood Association of Utah on Monday sued Gov. Gary Herbert and the executive director of the state’s health department Dr. Joseph Miner, in Federal Court.
     The nonprofit claims that on Aug. 14, “without warning and having expressed no prior concerns about PPAU or the services it provides,” Herbert directed state agencies to stop acting as an intermediary for federal grant money going to the organization for non-abortion related services, “based solely on unproven allegations by an anti-abortion group of misconduct in other states.”
     Threats of a complete shutdown of the federal government loom as opponents of Planned Parenthood in Congress are conditioning the approval of the government’s operating budget on the complete revocation of all federal funds to the group unless it certifies that it will not provide abortions.
     The Center for Medical Progress, a California anti-abortion group, in August released secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials in Texas and other states describing how they provide fetal tissue from abortions for medical research.
     On Aug. 19 Herbert – joined Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and 300 attendees at a protest in the Utah State Capitol – prodding state lawmakers to defund Planned Parenthood.
     At the protest, Herbert said, “I’m here today to add my voice to yours and speak out on the sanctity of life.”
     He added, “The thing I find most appalling is the casualness, the callousness … the lack of respect, the lack of sensitivity to the unborn.”
     Planned Parenthood of Utah provides reproductive health care to an estimated 46,000 women, men and teens each year at health centers throughout the state.
     Additional services include annual wellness exams, birth control counseling and contraception provision, STD testing and treatment, screening for breast and cervical cancer, diagnosis and treatment of abnormal pap tests, and vasectomies.
     The organization provides abortions at one of its health centers in Salt Lake City, which it claims are funded solely by private donations.
     Herbert’s order, the group claims, “was motivated solely by animus toward PPAU’s constitutionally protected, privately funded activities – specifically, PPAU’s association with providers of abortion services, including the national organization and its affiliates, PPAU’s advocacy for access to abortion services; and/or PPAU’s provision of and/or association with abortion services, even though PPAU conducts all such activities outside of any state or federal program and with no funding from those programs.”
     The 18-page lawsuit adds that Herbert “therefore singled out PPAU for this unfavorable treatment, not based on any actual, or even alleged, misconduct by PPAU itself, but because of its association with Planned Parenthood.”
     Herbert allegedly knew Planned Parenthood’s Utah chapter did not use federal funding for abortions.
     “As Gov. Herbert himself acknowledged in his directive, no federal funding to PPAU, whether directly from the federal government or through state agencies such as UDOH, is used to provide abortions,” the lawsuit states.
     Utah was the fifth state to defund Planned Parenthood following Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana – which are revoking a contract with Planned Parenthood using state Medicaid dollars – and New Hampshire, which blocked $650,000 in state taxpayer funding.
     U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order allowing funds to keep flowing to Planned Parenthood in Utah, which claimed that some of its programs would have expired Wednesday had the money been blocked.
     Waddoups said public interest favored the organization.
     “The programs carried out by plaintiff target at-risk individuals and the reduction of communicable diseases,” Waddoups wrote. “These are strong public interests that outweigh the defendants’ stated interests in defunding PPAU.”
     The injunction is to remain in effect until an evidentiary hearing on Oct. 15.
     Spokeswoman Aimee Edwards said Herbert “stands by his actions.”
     “Gov. Herbert stands by his actions to cease acting as a pass­-through for federal funds to Planned Parenthood,” Edwards said in an official statement. “He was offended by the actions of Planned Parenthood and the callousness with which they discussed human life. The health of Utahns, especially women, remains a priority for the governor. He will continue working with the state health department, local health departments, community health centers, non-­profit clinics and others to provide these important services.”
     Planned Parenthood on Tuesday said dozens of supporters delivered more than 3,000 cards with handwritten and digital messages from Utahns who use the organization’s services.
     “While Planned Parenthood Association of Utah does not participate in fetal tissue donation programs, we stand by Planned Parenthood affiliates around the country who do,” chapter president Karrie Galloway said.
     Galloway added that Planned Parenthood donates tissue “for life-saving research only with consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards, and nobody benefits financially.”
     Planned Parenthood of Utah seeks a permanent injunction for violations of the First and Fourtheenth Amendments.
     It is represented by Peggy Tomsic with Magleby & Greenwood.
     Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Washington, D.C., in a grueling five-hour hearing on Tuesday.
     Rep. Gerald Connelly, D-Virginia, decried “disrespect and misogyny rampant” at the event, referring to his colleagues’ treatment of Richards during questioning.
     Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, scoffed at the suggestion.
     “This is my 27th hearing here in the Congress, and I can assure you I’ve seen many men treated much tougher than you have been here today,” Duncan said.

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