Planned Parenthood wins appeal to restore state funding in Utah
SALT LAKE CITY, July 13, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — A federal appeals court handed Planned Parenthood a victory on Tuesday in its fight to protect its public funding by granting the abortion giant a restraining order against the state of Utah that bars Gov. Gary Herbert from defunding Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU).
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver overturned a Utah federal judge’s decision allowing the governor to block federal funds from going to the abortion chain’s Utah branch, FOX13 Salt Lake City reported, stating in its ruling that Herbert was acting based on his personal opposition to abortion and adding that PPAU argued Herbert had admitted the evidence shown in the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos was “unproven and in fact false.”
“Considering all of this evidence together, we conclude that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert issued the Directive to punish PPAU for the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights it has identified in this litigation,” Judge Mary Beck Briscoe wrote. “In particular, we conclude that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert, a politician and admitted opponent of abortion, viewed the situation that presented itself by release of the CMP videos as an opportunity to take public action against PPAU, deprive it of pass-through federal funding, and potentially weaken the organization and hamper its ability to provide and advocate for abortion services.”
Herbert ordered the state’s Department of Health to stop sending federal dollars, roughly $275,000, to Planned Parenthood in August 2015 after the Center for Medical Progress undercover videos exposed the abortion behemoth’s leaders bartering for profit from the remains of children aborted at its facilities.
PPAU sued not long after and the following month a federal judge granted a restraining order against Herbert, later extending it and then canceling it in December. The 10th Circuit granted Planned Parenthood an emergency stay the day before the funding was set to expire on Dec. 31.
Continuing in Tuesday’s 10th Circuit decision to say that Herbert would be found to be acting against Planned Parenthood by his personal opposition to abortion, Briscoe also wrote, “This seems especially true given Herbert’s concession that the allegations made by CMP are unproven and in fact false, and in light of the current political climate, including the efforts by abortion opponents both in the State of Utah and nationally to defund Planned Parenthood and its affiliates.”
Judge Robert Bacharach, who agreed partly with the overall ruling, yet dissented by affirming the district court’s denial of PPAU’s motion for a preliminary injunction, also took issue with the majority’s assertion that PPAU had argued Herbert conceded the CMP videos were false.
“The majority contends that Governor Herbert admitted that the accusations made by [the Center for Medical Progress] in the videos regarding Planned Parenthood and its other affiliates had not been proven and indeed were false,” Bacharach wrote. “I respectfully disagree with this interpretation of the record.”
“PPAU does not allege that Governor Herbert conceded that the allegations were false,” he continued. “Instead, PPAU alleges only that Governor Herbert acknowledged that the conduct depicted in the videos had not taken place in Utah.”
Further, citing the majority’s using part of the defendants’ brief in district court, Bacharach wrote, “This excerpt again does not suggest that Governor Herbert conceded that he had mistakenly interpreted the video evidence or that this evidence was false. Nowhere has PPAU presented evidence of a concession by Governor Herbert that the video evidence was false or misinterpreted.”
Governor Herbert’s office said in a statement he was disappointed with the ruling and would confer with his staff on how to proceed.
“The governor is disappointed with the court’s split decision today,” Herbert spokesman Jon Cox said. “He believes that it is in the public’s best interest to allow state officials to make contract decisions on behalf of the state, rather than a distant federal court. The governor will work with the attorney general to review the court’s decision and determine the best course of action moving forward.”
More than a dozen states have moved to stop public funding of the nation’s largest abortion business since the release of the CMP videos last year, along with numerous state and federal investigations into Planned Parenthood’s possible illegal profit from the sale of human organs.