On Friday, Planned Parenthood stopped suing the state of Kansas after it was ordered to pay $1,300 to cover part of the cost of the state's defense. The ruling was made by a three-judge panel in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
It is unusual for government agencies in public lawsuits to ask for reimbursement of costs when it prevails in litigation. However, according to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven Haden, “Kansas is showing good stewardship with taxpayer dollars.”
“Just as they don't want to subsidize abortion providers with family planning funds, obviously they don't want to subsidize them by way of litigation costs, either,” Haden told LifeSiteNews. “So requiring Planned Parenthood to pay back the costs of the lawsuit it lost is another example of good stewardship by the political leadership in Kansas.”
The Planned Parenthood lawsuit stemmed from a 2011 law that prioritized Title X federal funding for public health departments and hospitals. Title X dollars are designed to help poor people find birth control, pregnancy testing, STI treatment, and cancer screenings. They cannot be used for abortions.
The state of Kansas argued that Planned Parenthood had no right to the dollars, especially since the law was written in order to prioritize organizations, not target Planned Parenthood. Nevertheless, its functional effect was to defund Planned Parenthood in Kansas.
The law was originally introduced in 2010, but was blocked by then-governor Mark Parkinson, who had served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius served as the head of Health & Human Services for more than five years in the Obama administration. It became law under Gov. Sam Brownback, a socially conservative Republican.
The law was originally written by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-KS, who was a state senator before coming to Congress. On Monday, Huelskamp told LifeSiteNews that “it's an exciting day for us. The way we approached it, there are a limited number of dollars, and we are going to focus them to organizations that help women and children.” He said that the state's strategy was effective because “nobody is entitled to the public treasury.”
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Huelskamp has long promoted defunding Planned Parenthood at the federal level. While this was a focus of the pro-life movement in 2011, currently much of the movement's political weight is behind a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks' gestation.
According to Huelskamp, “it's probably a shorter fight to defund Planned Parenthood than to enact the 20-week abortion ban.”
“There is no chance we'll overturn a presidential veto in the House and Senate regarding abortion restrictions,” said the outspoken conservative. “On the flip side, defunding Planned Parenthood — all you have to do is push it into the appropriations bill, and the president doesn't have a line-item veto. We could include it in the trillions-dollars of spending in the federal government.”
“That is actually more doable than a 20-week abortion ban,” he concluded.
The state law was temporarily blocked by a District Court judge in 2011, but that decision was overturned in March. The Appeals Court, located in Denver, Colorado, said that Kansas could implement the law while the lawsuit was ongoing.
According to Operation Rescue President Troy Newman in a public statement, “This is a huge victory that can serve as encouragement to other states that it is possible to defund Planned Parenthood.”
“Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars being spent to prop up Planned Parenthood,” said Newman.
The Washington Times reports that two of Planned Parenthood's clinics will be affected. The only abortion clinic run by Planned Parenthood in the state does not receive federal family planning funding.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a public statement, “We take seriously our duty to defend Kansas law against legal challenges.”
According to his spokesperson Clint Blaes, “the State of Kansas spent $423,911.72 in legal fees and expenses defending the state law in Planned Parenthood v. Brownback.”
“As Kansas was the prevailing party in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the court awarded the state $1,350 reimbursement for three docketing fees. Additional costs may be awarded by the District Court,” Blaes told LifeSiteNews.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri declined to comment.