Planned Parenthood Kansas Ruling: Judge Orders State To Resume Funding
BY ROXANA HEGEMAN 08/30/11 07:26 PM ET
WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge ordered Kansas to immediately resume funding a Planned Parenthood chapter on the same quarterly schedule that existed before a new state law stripped it of all federal funding for non-abortion services.
U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Tuesday rejected the state’s request that it pay Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri monthly and only for services provided.
The judge also declined to order Planned Parenthood to post a bond in the event the state prevailed in the lawsuit.
Planned Parenthood has sued to block a provision of the state budget preventing the organization from receiving any of the state’s share of federal family planning dollars.
Marten wrote in his ruling that the intent of the court’s earlier order was to restore and maintain the prior status quo between the parties, a relationship that was based on quarterly installment payments of the federal money. He said the monthly reimbursement schedule the state wants would have the effect of undermining the clinic’s ability to maintain its current level of services.
Planned Parenthood said last week that it would stop providing services at its clinic in Hays on Friday unless it was told it would soon receive the money. Friday would also have been last day the organization offered a sliding fee scale for low-income patients at its Wichita clinic.
“The court finds no injury to the defendants in maintaining the prior payment schedule, as they will be providing funding in a manner consistent with prior practice between the parties, and to an organization which has consistently provided satisfactory family planning services,” Marten wrote in his ruling.
Even if the court’s Aug. 1 temporary injunction is later overturned or modified, the residents of Hays and Wichita will be best assured of continued family planning services by maintaining the status quo, the judge said.
Planned Parenthood has argued that if it lost the $330,000 a year in Title X funding it would be forced to close its clinic in the western Kansas city of Hays. It contended its 5,700 patients who go to its Wichita and Hays clinics would face higher costs, longer wait or travel times for appointments and have less access to services.
No federal money goes to abortions. At issue in the lawsuit are Title X funds to help low-income individuals with reproductive health care services such as birth control, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
The clinic had argued that Marten’s initial injunction required the state to maintain “the status quo” which would mean quarterly payments beginning in July at the start of the state’s fiscal year.
Planned Parenthood President and CEO Peter Brownlie said he was pleased and cautiously optimistic that his group would hear from the state by Wednesday a definitive date when KDHE would resume its funding, as it has been ordered for a month now.
“I can’t imagine that the state would continue to defy a federal court order,” Brownlie said. “I am hopeful that it will do the right thing and resume the funding.”
Neither the Kansas attorney general’s office nor KDHE immediately returned calls for comment.
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a new state law which requires Kansas to allocate federal family planning dollars first to public health departments and hospitals, leaving no money for Planned Parenthood or similar groups.