Archive for Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kansas touts state sovereignty in defunding clinic

July 26, 2011


— The state of Kansas defended a budget provision which defunded a Planned Parenthood chapter as a matter of state sovereignty, arguing in a court document that a proposed injunction would unconstitutionally replace the state’s discretion with the court’s judgment.

But Planned Parenthood has contended the Kansas statute unconstitutionally imposes additional conditions of eligibility for a federal program that are not required by federal law.

Which argument prevails will help determine whether U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten next week grants the preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

Planned Parenthood, which has received federal funding for the past 25 years, expects the new provision to strip it of about $330,000 in annual funding for its Wichita and Hays health centers that provide services to about 4,720 patients in Wichita and 960 individuals in Hays.

It contends the new law likely will force it to close one or more health centers in Kansas. If the statute is allowed to stand, thousands of patients would face higher costs, less access to services and longer wait or travel times for appointments, the group said.

The state argued in court that other entities could provide the same services Planned Parenthood offers in Sedgwick and Ellis counties.

The court filings will set the legal groundwork for anticipated oral arguments at the Aug. 1 hearing on Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary order barring the new statute from taking effect while its legal challenge to it works its way through the federal courts.

Little mention of abortion

The state’s 55-page response filed Friday to that request makes little mention of the contentious issue — abortion — that arguably spawned the statute and the subsequent lawsuit.

Although none of the Title X federal funding for family planning that is at issue in the case goes to abortion services, Planned Parenthood contends the state budget provision represents a punishment for publicly advocating abortion rights. Their lawsuit also alleges the provision violates the organization’s rights to free speech and legal due process.

Planned Parenthood offers abortion services in Kansas only at its clinic in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb, but also has clinics in Wichita and Hays that serve about 5,700 patients.

“The effect of this provision — and indeed, its purpose — is to prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in the Title X program because it performs or is affiliated with the provision of abortion services,” attorneys for the clinic wrote.

In its formal response, however, attorneys for the state argued that no legislative history exists from which one might ascertain “legislative intent” behind the statute. It notes the budget provision does not mention abortion.

Sovereignty vs. supremacy

Attorneys for the state said in its lawsuit that the state does not now have a contract with Planned Parenthood. It noted it has entered into a contract with the Sedgwick County Health Department to expand its family planning services and is negotiating with another agency.

“The proposed injunction would commandeer one of the State’s agencies, forcing the State to cancel past contracts and enter into new ones selected by the Court,” the state argued. “The proposed injunction would violate the State’s sovereignty and unconstitutionally replace the State’s discretion with the Court’s judgment.”

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood cited the Supremacy Clause in arguing that they are likely to win their lawsuit. It contended in its filing that the federal government may impose terms and conditions on money it distributes to the states and once the state chooses to accept the money under a voluntary program, such as Title X, the state is bound by the requirements the federal government established for those funds.

“Kansas is not the first state to target abortion providers in the Title X program,” the clinic’s attorneys wrote. “Courts have repeatedly rejected such efforts as violating the Supremacy Clause.”


Cait McKnelly 6 years, 6 months ago

Bottom line, it's federal money. All the state is doing is administering it. If PP meets the federal guidelines than Kansas has no right to pass legislation (fer godssake) specifically barring PP from receiving it. It's not your money, Kansas. You don't have a right to say where it goes. You certainly don't have the right to pass legislation cherry picking who gets the money. This is a bit like my son handing me 20$ to go buy him a new belt at Walmart (since I was going there anyway) and then my buying him a black belt instead of the brown one he asked for, then invoking parental privilege for the change. Despite the fact that he's over 18 and it's his money. And by the way, it should be mentioned that other states have tried this in the past and made the exact same argument. And lost. Don't you think it would have behooved the state legislature to do a little research before passing such legislation? Then we wouldn't be stuck paying the Kochs' attorneys 300$/hour to defend indefensible legislation, using a tired old argument that's been attempted in the past. Which means they aren't very good at their job. So Kansas is using state money to buy a pig in a poke. But then what else is new in the merry old land of Oz? Sibelius would have at least vetoed it and saved us the attorney fees.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 5 months ago

Yes, it's the Fed's money. Just as much as they can and will withhold federal money from the Arts Commission because the state didn't follow federal law. Just as they can and will withhold federal money from SRS because the state didn't follow federal law. Just as they can and will force Kansas to give PP the money because they didn't follow federal law. Laugh at me all you want to, Federal law trumps state law, especially in terms of the money coming from the US Treasury.

Liberty275 6 years, 6 months ago

"Bottom line, it's federal money. All the state is doing is administering it. If PP meets the federal guidelines than Kansas has no right to pass legislation (fer godssake) specifically barring PP from receiving it. "

LOL. The left doesn't know when to stop digging. did it ever occur to you people the reason the feds can bust state-legalized medical marijuana distributors and users is because you have used abortion to destroy state's rights?

Will you never learn?

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 5 months ago

Hmm. No refutation to what I said, just a whine about abortion busting states rights. I suggest you take that up with the Supreme Court.

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