Planned Parenthood Takes Up Multiple Legal Challenges Nationwide

June 30, 2011 — Planned Parenthood is fighting an "increasingly aggressive campaign" against legislation in several states that restricts abortion rights or cuts off funding to the organization, Politico reports. The group has brought lawsuits in Indiana and Kansas challenging restrictions that would cut off its funding, and officials are considering filing a lawsuit in North Carolina to challenge a provision in the state's budget to defund the organization. Planned Parenthood also is fighting a law in South Dakota that requires a 72-hour waiting period before women can receive abortion care.

"What's different this year ... is the fact that we are either named or contemplated in so many pieces of legislation," Roger Evans, senior director of public policy litigation for Planned Parenthood, said. He added, "We will probably be litigating in about six states by the time we're done, and that is completely unprecedented from ever before."

The group has faced some media scrutiny that has "called into question whether abortion-rights defenders had shirked their responsibilities" to fight antiabortion-rights legislation, according to Politico. Planned Parenthood officials said they have to be strategic about which cases they choose to fight. They also note that they do not have legal grounds to challenge laws that do not affect the organization. For example, although a Kansas law bans abortion later in pregnancy, no clinic in the state provides abortion care after 16 weeks, so the law has no practical effect on abortion access (Kliff, Politico, 6/29).