July 2, 2012 — A federal court on Thursday struck down a North Carolina law that blocked distribution of family planning funds to Planned Parenthood clinics because the organization offers abortion care, BNA reports. The ruling makes permanent an injunction issued in August 2011.
Ruling in a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina found that the law violates the clinic operator's First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights, as well as the Supremacy Clause and prohibition against bills designed to punish a selected entity. The law "was intended to single out and punish Planned Parenthood and its affiliated organizations" for its abortion-related services, the court said.
The ruling added that although the state may opt against funding abortion or related services, it cannot bar clinics' eligibility for contracts or grants based on their exercise of protected rights. The court noted that the Planned Parenthood clinics provide many non-abortion services, such cancer screenings, diabetes testing, testing for sexually transmitted infections and contraceptives.
The court rejected the state's claim that the lawsuit violated the 11th Amendment, which bans lawsuits seeking monetary damages against a state in a federal court (Sturges, BNA, 6/28).