Judge: Utah GOP Can Nix Funds for Planned Parenthood Programs

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Judge: Utah GOP Can Nix Funds for Planned Parenthood Programs

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The reproductive health-care provider used those funds for programs like after-school programming for young people as well as sexually transmitted infection testing throughout the state.

A federal court on Tuesday ruled that Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) can move forward with efforts to cut funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state.

The ruling is a reversal of an order issued in September that prevented Herbert from stopping about $275,000 in federal funds from going to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU).

The reproductive health-care provider received those funds for initiatives like an after-school community service program for young people and sexually transmitted infection testing throughout the state.

But on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups said the state had the authority to end the contracts for the programs. “Indeed, these are the types of decisions that should be left to election officials and not managed by the courts,” Waddoups wrote in the order.

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Herbert was one of a handful of Republican governors who took steps to cut funding to the reproductive health-care provider following the release of heavily edited videos by the anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). The attack videos show Planned Parenthood officials discussing its fetal tissue donation program. State and federal investigations have turned up no wrongdoing on Planned Parenthood’s part.

CMP has worked closely with GOP legislators to defund Planned Parenthood since the summer.

PPAU provides reproductive health care to about 46,000 people a year, and does not participate in fetal tissue donation.

Herbert in August instructed the Utah Department of Health to stop administering grants to PPAU in light of “ongoing concerns about the organization” as a result of those videos, which have been widely discredited.

PPAU sued Herbert in September, arguing that the governor’s decision to block federal funds from passing through to the health-care organization was unconstitutional and politically motivated. The federal court had initially sided with Planned Parenthood but then reversed Tuesday, determining that Planned Parenthood had not met its initial burden in proving those claims to justify continuing the earlier order.

PPAU President and CEO Karrie Galloway called the court’s decision “regrettable.”

“We are reviewing next steps with our attorneys and we will be looking at every possible way to continue the critical health care and education programs that are at risk,” Galloway said in a statement.