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Planned Parenthood Sues To Block Kan. Defunding Law

Planned Parenthood Sues To Block Kan. Defunding Law

June 28, 2011 — Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri on Monday filed a lawsuit in Kansas City's U.S. District Court against a provision in the 2012 state budget that prevents the organization from receiving federal family planning funding through Title X, the AP/Washington Post reports. The provision requires that the state's portion of federal family planning funds go to public health departments and hospitals. Planned Parenthood alleges that the law violates its free speech and legal due process (Hanna, AP/Washington Post, 6/27). For 2012-2013, Kansas is expected to receive about $2.7 million in Title X funds, which help pay for Pap tests, cancer screenings, contraception and other preventive health services for low-income women. The money cannot be used to pay for abortion services (Cooper, Kansas City Star, 6/28). Planned Parenthood would lose about $330,000 under the new budget.

Planned Parenthood said that the state notified it on June 14 that it would no longer receive Title X funds starting July 1. The organization seeks a temporary injunction against the state budget, arguing that its restrictions on federal funds are "in excess of and inconsistent with" federal requirements for Title X. Planned Parenthood also argued that the provision is an "unconstitutional burden" on women who choose to have abortions (McCarthy, National Journal, 6/27). The suit names Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser as defendants (Kansas City Star, 6/28).

Helene Krasnoff, a lawyer defending Planned Parenthood, said the "budget amendment is contrary to federal law, impermissibly penalizes Planned Parenthood and has the effect of restricting Kansans' access to health care." A long-time "battleground" on abortion, Kansas has seen numerous measures, including a recent clinic inspection law, that aim to chip away abortion services in the state, according to the New York Times (Williams, New York Times, 6/27).

Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said clinics likely would not close if the suit is unsuccessful, but Planned Parenthood clients could pay more for services. He added, "The real impact of this is on women and families. It takes away affordable health care and makes it much more difficult for folks to obtain these services" (Kansas City Star, 6/28). Brownlie said, "If Gov. Brownback and his allies in the Legislature were serious about reducing abortions in Kansas, they would work to prevent unintended pregnancies" (Lefler/Mann, Wichita Eagle, 6/28).