Federal Judge Blocks Utah GOP’s Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

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Federal Judge Blocks Utah GOP’s Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Tuesday’s ruling keeping the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah's funding intact is the latest effort from the federal courts to protect the reproductive health-care provider from conservative political attacks.

See more of our coverage on recent attacks against Planned Parenthood here.

A federal district judge in Utah issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday, preventing Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s administration from discontinuing funding to Planned Parenthood health-care facilities in the state.

The order was issued after the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU) filed suit Monday following an order to state agencies from Herbert to discontinue their contracts providing federal funding to Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. Those contracts include funding for after-school programming for young people as well as sexually transmitted infection testing throughout the state.

Herbert’s directive to end funding to PPAU was “motivated solely by animus toward PPAU’s constitutionally protected, privately funded activities—specifically, PPAU’s association with providers of abortion services,” according to the complaint.

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Tuesday’s ruling keeping PPAU’s funding intact is the latest effort from the federal courts to protect the reproductive health-care provider from conservative political attacks following the release of heavily edited smear videos by the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). A federal district judge this month in Arkansas blocked similar Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood centers there.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has filed lawsuits on behalf of its patients in Alabama and Louisiana against similar GOP measures to strip the organization of its federal funds in those states.

“For the second time in recent weeks, the courts have ruled to protect access to care at Planned Parenthood,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement following the ruling. “These cruel attacks are based on totally false and thoroughly discredited claims by anti-abortion extremists—and could have real and devastating consequences on the patients who rely on us for birth control, cancer screenings, and other care,” said Richards.

Tuesday’s ruling will remain in place until a hearing on the merits of Planned Parenthood’s claims on October 15.