Kan. Appeals Judge's Order in Planned Parenthood Case

August 10, 2011 — Kansas on Tuesday filed a notice of appeal asking a federal judge to overturn a temporary injunction blocking a state law that ends the state's allocation of federal family planning funding to Planned Parenthood, the AP/Wichita Eagle reports. The state also asked for an immediate suspension of the judge's order pending the appeal of his decision (Hegeman, AP/Wichita Eagle, 8/9).

U.S. District Judge Thomas Marten on Aug. 1 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 ruling orders the state to resume allocating federal Title X family planning grants to Planned Parenthood clinics as it has for the last 25 years and as promised in the grant application Kansas submitted when requesting the five-year family planning grant.

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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/2). Title X family planning grants support the provision of reproductive health care services, including contraceptive services and supplies, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted infections. Title X funds cannot be used to provide abortion care.

The state attorneys argued that Planned Parenthood has no federal right to the funds and that Marten's injunction violates 11th Amendment protections of state sovereignty. "Even if the court is correct that 'this must be about abortion,' it simply cannot be that the right to obtain an abortion in certain limited circumstances, or even to advocate for abortion, trumps both federal and state spending authority, as well as the state's sovereign immunity," they wrote in their appeal. The state also questioned whether the public would be harmed if the law were allowed to take effect (AP/Wichita Eagle, 8/9).