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Judge Blocks Kan. Law Preventing Federal Family Planning Funds for Planned Parenthood

Judge Blocks Kan. Law Preventing Federal Family Planning Funds for Planned Parenthood

August 2, 2011 — U.S. District Judge Thomas Marten on Monday granted a request from Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri to temporarily block enforcement of a recently enacted state law that would require Kansas to allocate federal family planning funding to public health departments and hospitals, leaving no money for Planned Parenthood and similar groups, the AP/Washington Post reports. The ruling orders the state to resume providing federal Title X family planning grants to Planned Parenthood clinics. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) said the state plans to appeal.

Marten said the law is unconstitutional because it would impose additional restrictions on a federally funded program in violation of the Supremacy Clause, which prohibits states from imposing conditions of eligibility on federal programs that are not required by federal law. Marten also agreed with PPKM that the purpose of the law was to punish the group for supporting abortion rights, which infringes on its rights of association under the First and 14th amendments. "The purpose of the statute was to single out, punish and exclude Planned Parenthood," he wrote, noting that Gov. Sam Brownback (R) reportedly told the state GOP caucus that he hoped Kansas would "zero out funding of Planned Parenthood" (AP/Washington Post, 8/1). Marten said, "The public interest is advanced by the use of Title X [federal family planning] funding consistent with the intent of Congress, and free from punitive, viewpoint-based or associational discrimination" (McCarthy, National Journal, 8/1).

Reaction to Ruling

Kansas defended the law, saying it was a matter of state sovereignty. The state argued that the federal court should stay out of the state's spending matters and that state public health agencies could care for patients who would have gone to Planned Parenthood (Mears, CNN, 8/1). Schmidt said in statement, "It appears that the court declared a duly-enacted Kansas statute unconstitutional without engaging in the fact-finding one would expect before reaching such a conclusion."

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser said that federal funds were not intended as an "entitlement program" for Planned Parenthood, adding, "Other providers are already offering a fuller spectrum of health care for Kansas patients." Marten's "highly unusual ruling implies a private organization has a right to a taxpayer subsidy," he said (Wisniewski, Reuters, 8/2).

Peter Brownlie, president of PPKM, said, "The court issued a strong ruling that Planned Parenthood is likely to prevail on all our arguments and ordered the state to continue funding Planned Parenthood under the Title X program." He added, "Marten affirmed what we already knew, and what our arguments and evidence made clear: This budget amendment is contrary to federal law, violates the constitutional rights of PPKM and our patients, unconstitutionally penalizes Planned Parenthood, and has the effect of restricting Kansans' access to health care" (National Journal, 8/1).

Marten's ruling will remain in effect until the case is resolved (AP/Washington Post, 8/1).