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Planned Parenthood Appeals Ruling Allowing Utah Gov. To Block Funding

The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah in a court filing Tuesday asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to extend its emergency hold that prevents Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) from blocking federal funding for the organization, the AP/Cache Valley Daily reports.

Arguments in the case are scheduled for March (AP/Cache Valley Daily, 1/29).

Background

Over the summer, the Center for Medical Progress, an antiabortion-rights organization, released a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood. Following the release of the videos, Herbert 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, U.S. District Court Judge Clark 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 the temporary restraining order until he issued a written ruling.

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.

Later that month, Planned Parenthood asked the 10th Circuit to review Waddoups' ruling. The appeals court issued an emergency hold barring Herbert from blocking the funding (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/4).

Filing Details

In a court filing on Tuesday, Planned Parenthood stated that Waddoups disregarded evidence showing Planned Parenthood had not engaged in wrongdoing. Further, Planned Parenthood said several thousand people would be put at risk if the funding is blocked.

"The public has no interest in allowing the governor to violate citizens' constitutional rights," the appeal stated (AP/Cache Valley Daily, 1/29).

Herbert Rejects Lawmakers' Request To Reverse Funding Decision

In related news, Herbert on Thursday refused a request from four state lawmakers to reverse his decision to cut the funding, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

In their request, the state lawmakers noted that a Texas grand jury had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing (Whitehurst/Price, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/28). Instead, the Harris County, Texas, grand jury indicted CMP Director David Daleiden and employee Sandra Merritt (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/28). According to the AP/Daily, multiple state investigations have cleared the organization (AP/Cache Valley Daily, 1/29).

On Thursday, Herbert stated that he would wait until congressional investigations into the organization have concluded (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/28).