September 29, 2015 — Planned Parenthood of Utah on Monday filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gary Herbert (R) for his decision to end the organization's Medicaid funding after the release of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood, AP/Modern Healthcare reports (AP/Modern Healthcare, 9/28).
The videos, which depict Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donation, were released by an antiabortion-rights group called the Center for Medical Progress. Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal.
Following the videos' release, Herbert in August ordered the state Department of Health to stop distributing federal funding to the organization. Utah joined several other states that also have taken steps to terminate or block Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contracts, including Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. Meanwhile, New Hampshire moved to block state funding for the organization (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/17).
Planned Parenthood already has filed separate lawsuits to block the Arkansas and Louisiana decisions (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/14). The organization has also filed a similar suit to block Alabama's funding cuts (Women's Health Policy Report 9/8). Further, HHS has warned Alabama and Louisiana that their efforts to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds could violate federal law (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/14).
In the latest lawsuit, Planned Parenthood asked a federal court judge to rule that Herbert's orders violate Planned Parenthood's constitutional rights to due process and free speech (Dobuzinskis, Reuters, 9/28). The lawsuit states that Herbert's orders were based on unfounded allegations against Planned Parenthood affiliates in other states.
According to AP/Modern Healthcare, Planned Parenthood of Utah last year received $272,000 in federal funding to provide sexuality education, and testing and monitoring for sexually transmitted infections (AP/Modern Healthcare, 9/28).
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, "Governor Herbert is targeting access to critical, lifesaving health care and education for women, men and teens in Utah -- including [STI] tests for rape survivors" (Reuters, 9/28).
Mo. Planned Parenthood Investigation Finds No Wrongdoing
In related news, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D) on Monday announced that the state's investigation into Planned Parenthood following CMP's videos has not found any evidence of wrongdoing.
Koster said the investigation, which included interviewing Planned Parenthood employees and a document review, found that the organization complied with state law when handling fetal tissue. According to Reuters, the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis is the only licensed surgical abortion facility in Missouri.
"We have discovered no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Planned Parenthood's St. Louis facility is selling fetal tissue," Koster said (Ortiz et al., Reuters, 9/28).