Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri abandoned its legal challenge Friday to a Kansas law that strips two of its clinics of hundreds of thousands of federal taxpayer dollars.
Kansas lawmakers had passed a bill in 2011 that required tax dollars from Title X, a federal family planning program, to first be allocated to public health departments, hospitals, and community groups that do not provide abortions.
As Christian News reports, a federal appeals court in Denver ruled 2-1 in March that Kansas officials may strip Planned Parenthood of Title X funding, against the organization’s arguments that this violated its rights to free speech and association.
The federal appeals court ruling reversed the earlier ruling of Judge Thomas Marten in August of 2011, which forced Kansas to continue to fund Planned Parenthood while the case was being litigated.
According to the Associated Press, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Elise Higgins said a decision about the affected clinics in Hays and Wichita will likely not be made until later in the week.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in an emailed statement to AP Monday that it is committed to ensuring women receive high-quality affordable contraceptive care, cancer and HIV screenings, health education, and referrals to other health and social services through the Title X program.
“Therefore, we will assure that services continue to be provided in the geographic areas and to the populations listed in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s funded Title X application,” said HHS spokeswoman Tara Broido.
However, Troy Newman, president of pro-life organization Operation Rescue, said, “This is a huge victory that can serve as encouragement to other states that it is possible to defund Planned Parenthood. Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars being spent to prop up Planned Parenthood.”
To date, ten states have passed laws to defund Planned Parenthood, though some of those laws are still being challenged in court. Kansas is among the first of the states that have been freed to actually strip funding.
Planned Parenthood argued that the funding for the Hays and Wichita clinics did not pay for abortion services, but primarily to keep the clinics open.
“The truth is that two centers in Hays and Wichita were little more than abortion referral centers that funneled abortion patients to Planned Parenthood in Overland Park on a regular basis – at taxpayer expense,” Newman said. “There are abundant medical services available for women in Hays and Wichita so that the closure of those Planned Parenthood offices will have no effect on the availability of legitimate health care for women in those communities.”
Despite a successful defense of the Kansas law defunding Planned Parenthood, Operation Rescue reports the state has been apathetic toward defending another 2011 law that provided safety standards for abortion clinics. The pro-life group states, “Kansas abortion clinics are completely unaccountable and are never inspected.”
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has been criticized in the past by Operation Rescue for failing to aggressively defend the state’s law that requires abortion clinics to be licensed and places them under the auspices of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. This law is currently being challenged in state court by father/daughter abortionists, Herbert Hodes and Tracy Nauser, who operate the abortion clinic in Overland Park.
“There has been absolutely no action in the clinic licensing case since August 2012,” Newman said. “Right now, women are being subjected to substandard abortion practices in Kansas because the law that would have, for the first time, provided for abortion clinic oversight, inspections and minimum safety regulations has sat in limbo.”
“We know that most abortion clinics provide shoddy services and don’t want to be subject to any kind [of] legitimate medical standards because they know they can’t comply,” he added. “The only way they can stay open is by cutting corners on women’s safety and with the aid of tax dollars.”