Planned Parenthood Sues Kansas Officials over Funds

June 27, 2011 - 1:59 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit Monday over a provision pushed by abortion opponents in Kansas' next state budget that prevents the organization from receiving federal family planning dollars.

The lawsuit comes as Planned Parenthood awaits word from the state about whether it will receive a license to continue performing abortions in Kansas as of Friday. Its clinic was inspected last week under a separate state law setting up a special licensing process for abortion providers, and one of Kansas' three providers has already been denied a license.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., alleges that the budget provision — which was urged by abortion opponents — violates the organization's free speech and due process rights. The lawsuit names Gov. Sam Brownback, an anti-abortion Republican, and Robert Moser, his secretary of health and environment, as defendants.

The provision says the state's portion of federal family planning dollars must go first to public health departments and hospitals, which leaves no money for Planned Parenthood and similar groups. Planned Parenthood expects the provision to cost it $330,000.

Abortion rights advocates are worried that Kansas will soon be the first state with no licensed abortion providers. The state currently has three providers, and one of them, the Aid for Women clinic in Kansas City, Kan., already has been told by the Department of Health and Environment that it won't receive a license.

The funding provision aimed at Planned Parenthood in the budget, along with the clinic licensing law, take effect Friday. They were among multiple anti-abortion proposals approved this year and signed by Brownback, who took office in January.

"Unfortunately, Governor Brownback and his allies in the legislature put the health of thousands of their constituents at risk by eliminating funding for a trusted community health care provider," said Peter Brownlie, the Planned Parenthood chapter's president and chief executive officer. "Women in Kansas need better access to affordable, high quality health care, not politically-motivated barriers."

Backers of the budget provision argue that Kansans who oppose abortion shouldn't be forced to have their tax dollars subsidize abortions. Planned Parenthood maintains that it keeps abortion services separate from other services, such as family planning, but abortion opponents contend any state funds ultimately help support the chapter's clinic in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb.