N.C. Legislature Overrides Veto of State Budget That Strips Funding From Family Planning Providers

July 5, 2012 — North Carolina lawmakers on Monday evening voted to override Gov. Bev Perdue's (D) veto of a state budget that defunds private providers of family planning services, including Planned Parenthood, Huffington Post reports (Bassett, Huffington Post, 7/3).

The move marks the second time in two years that both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature, with the help of some House Democrats, have overridden Perdue's budget veto (Bonner, Raleigh News & Observer, 7/3). The budget, which was effective on July 1, redirects $343,000 from private family planning providers to county health departments (Huffington Post, 7/3).

Legal Challenges

A federal court struck down the 2011 provision last week. Ruling in a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, the court found that the law violates clinic operators' 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/2).

This year, lawmakers attempted to avoid legal challenges by not specifically naming Planned Parenthood in the legislation.

Impact of New Budget

It is unclear whether the ruling on the 2011 provision would apply to the new budget bill because Planned Parenthood isn't explicitly named. Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina projects losses of about $200,000 under the new budget.

"If we aren't able to figure something out and replace this funding, this will affect the price and availability of services and prescription drugs for patients," Paige Johnson, a spokesperson for the organization, said, adding that the group is "looking at all legal options" (Huffington Post, 7/3).