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Planned Parenthood of Utah Appeals Cutoff of State Funds

Planned Parenthood of Utah told a panel of judges at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Gov. Gary Herbert illegally cut the group's funding.
Planned Parenthood of Utah told a panel of judges at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Gov. Gary Herbert illegally cut the group's funding.
March 10, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY - Planned Parenthood of Utah is asking a federal appeals court to force Gov. Gary Herbert to stop cutting off funds to the organization.

Herbert issued an order in 2015 withholding $272,000 from the group despite an investigation in Texas that cleared Planned Parenthood of illegally selling fetal tissue to researchers for profit.

Peggy Tomsic, lead counsel for Planned Parenthood of Utah, told the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Herbert was engaging in illegal political retribution.

"Given what he said in the press in terms of punishing them for 'coloring outside the lines' when they uncontrovertedly have not done a single thing wrong," says Tomsic. "And their association with national has nothing to do with the alleged wrongdoing."

Utah officials argued that when the decision was made, Planned Parenthood was still under suspicion after the release of secretly recorded videos purporting to show officials in other states discussing fetal tissue.

The individuals who shot those videos are under indictment in Texas.

Herbert maintains the state has the right to end contracts at-will, but Tomsic says the governor intended to illegally punish Planned Parenthood of Utah for its associations, despite the fact that the Utah group never participated in fetal tissue donation programs.

She says the judges did not tip their hand on how they might rule.

"Like all good, sophisticated panels, they didn't give much away in terms of what they were thinking," says Tomsic. "So we're just going to have to wait for the decision."

Planned Parenthood of Utah is currently operating under an emergency order that keeps the state funds flowing for now, pending the decision by the appeals court.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - UT