Planned Parenthood appeals ruling allowing Utah to cut funds

AP News
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Posted: Dec 28, 2015 1:24 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah chapter of Planned Parenthood has appealed a U.S. judge's ruling that allows the Republican governor to cut off federal funding to the organization.

The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah filed a notice Sunday asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to block Gov. Gary Herbert's order cutting off the money.

A federal judge in Utah declined last week to temporarily stop Herbert's order while a Planned Parenthood lawsuit against the state moves forward. The group sued Utah in October after the governor decided to end $275,000 in contracts for sex education and sexually transmitted disease testing.

Utah is among a number of states that have moved to cut funding to the organization following the release of secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group showing Planned Parenthood officials in other states discussing fetal tissue from abortions.

Herbert has said he was offended by the callousness of the discussion shown on the videos.

Planned Parenthood has said it only recouped expenses for providing tissue to researchers, and the videos were heavily edited. The videos spawned multiple investigations by Congress and several states but none has shown Planned Parenthood broke any law.

Planned Parenthood has sued Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and other states to stop them from stripping them of contracts and federal money. In most other states, judges have ruled so far in Planned Parenthood's favor, allowing the funds to keep flowing while the court cases continue.

But in Utah, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled last week that even though the state's Planned Parenthood branch has done nothing wrong, it has associated with other Planned Parenthood entities accused of illegal activity. Utah has a right to avoid any appearance of corruption by ending the contracts, Waddoups said.

Karrie Galloway, CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said the judge's ruling was regrettable. The organization has said Herbert acted in response to unproven allegations and the move violated Planned Parenthood's First Amendment right to advocate for or perform abortions.

The group's attorneys have argued that stopping the money for STD and sex education programs would leave thousands of people at risk. State officials cited the same concerns in emails in the weeks before and after Herbert moved to block the money.

When asked to respond to the appeal, Herbert's office reiterated Monday that the governor believes the ruling recognizes his ability to make contract decisions for the state.