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Appeals Court Temporarily Blocks Utah's Move To End Planned Parenthood Funding

January 4, 2016 — The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday issued an emergency hold barring Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) from blocking funding for Planned Parenthood, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Background

Over the summer, the antiabortion-rights group Center for Medical Progress released a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood. Following the release of the videos, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R)ordered the state Department of Health to stop distributing federal funding to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. In response, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Herbert, asking a federal judge to rule that the governor's orders violate Planned Parenthood's constitutional rights to due process and free speech.

In September 2015, Waddoups issued a temporary restraining order on Herbert's decision through Oct. 15, 2015, ruling that Herbert's actions seem "to have been made on unconstitutional grounds" because there have been no allegations that Planned Parenthood of Utah broke any laws. Further, Waddoups agreed with Planned Parenthood's arguments that cutting off the organization's federal funding would curb women's access to reproductive health care, particularly among low-income women.

In October 2015, Waddoups said he would extend a temporary restraining order until he issued a written ruling on a request from Planned Parenthood to bar Utah from blocking the funding.

However, in December 2015, Waddoups reversed his prior decision and ruled that Utah could end $275,000 in federal funding to Planned Parenthood while the organization continues its lawsuit. The organization uses the funds for sexuality education and testing for sexually transmitted infections. Tom Hudachko, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health, said the Planned Parenthood contracts would continue through the end of 2015 (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/23). Later that month, Planned Parenthood asked the 10th Circuit to review Waddoups' ruling (Sullivan, The Hill, 12/28).

Latest Developments

According to the AP/Chronicle, the 10th Circuit's emergency hold means Planned Parenthood will temporarily continue to receive the funding as the court weighs whether to extend the injunction. The 10th Circuit has not heard arguments in the case, and it has not yet scheduled a hearing.

Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, praised the decision. "We will continue to stand up for the health and rights of thousands of Utahns who rely on Planned Parenthood for affordable health care and education," she said (AP/ San Francisco Chronicle, 12/30).