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Planned Parenthood Says Kan. Law Part of National Campaign Against Abortion Rights

Planned Parenthood Says Kan. Law Part of National Campaign Against Abortion Rights

August 1, 2011 — A new Kansas law -- which redirects the state's federal Title X family planning funds to public health departments and hospitals, leaving no money for Planned Parenthood clinics and similar groups -- is part of a national effort against the organization's advocacy of abortion rights, attorneys for the Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri argued in a court filing on Wednesday, the AP/Kansas City Star reports.

A federal district court judge on Monday is scheduled to review PPKM's lawsuit against the state, in which the group is seeking a temporary injunction against the new state law and a restoration of its funding (Hegeman, AP/Kansas City Star, 7/28). PPKM also argued that the law violates the rules of the federal Title X family planning program, as well as the group's due process and free speech rights (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/13).

According to the filing, abortion-rights opponents in the Kansas Legislature and their counterparts in several other states have mounted independent efforts to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving public funds after Congress failed to advance the cause nationwide. At least six states have passed laws that fully or partially block funding for Planned Parenthood clinics, the AP/Star notes.

Lee Thompson, a Wichita-based attorney for PPKM, wrote, "In each instance, state lawmakers were focused on Planned Parenthood's advocacy for abortion rights and abortion services, even though federal law already prohibits government funding of abortions." In an accompanying affidavit, PPKM President Peter Brownlie noted that Title X funds make up more than 44% of revenue at PPKM's Wichita health center and more than 30% of revenue at a Hays facility.

The court filing also countered the state's assertion that law itself does not mention abortion and that there is no legislative history from which to ascertain the statute's "legislative intent" to target abortion entitities that provide abortion care. The filing also clarifies that becuase Planned Parenthood was named as a recipient clinic in the state's Title X grant application for funding from 2010 to 2015, Planned Parenthood cannot independently apply for Title X funding, as the state has contended. PPKM has been part of the state's Title X grant application for the past 25 years (AP/Kansas City Star, 7/28).

Earlier this month, state officials argued in a court filing that state sovereignty should determine how it directs the funding, saying an injunction would unconstitutionally subvert the state's discretion (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/27).