Crime & Courts

Planned Parenthood asks judge to make state pay up

TOPEKA — Attorneys for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri asked a federal judge on Monday to require Kansas to pay the group quarterly with federal funds for non-abortion services.

Planned Parenthood has filed suit to block a provision of the state budget aimed at preventing the organization from receiving any of the state's share of federal family planning dollars.

Monday's filing in Wichita asks U.S. District J. Thomas Marten to require the state to make payments to the group as it has previously. The brief was filed in response to a request by the state that it pay Planned Parenthood monthly and only for services provided.

The state also is asking Planned Parenthood to post a bond should Kansas prevail in the suit and recover funds.

President and CEO Peter Brownlie said last week that the Planned Parenthood chapter hasn't received any funds from the state Department of Health and Environment, despite Marten's order to the contrary.

The group estimates that the new state provision, if enforced, would cost it about $330,000 a year and force it either to increase charges for low-income patients or cut back on services such as providing birth control and performing exams.

Marten issued an order Aug. 1 to block the budget provision. Last week, he rejected the state's request to suspend his order while the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver considers whether to overturn it. Attorneys for the state said in a filing posted Friday that they would ask the appeals court to stay Marten's original order.

Lee Thompson, attorney for Planned Parenthood, wrote that the state has had three weeks to comply with the court order "yet they continue to stall and otherwise avoid compliance."

Thompson said unless the state complied that Planned Parenthood would file a civil contempt motion with the federal court.

Thompson said in the filing that previously the state made quarterly payments to the group to provide services. They argue that Marten's order required the state to maintain "the status quo" which would mean quarterly payments beginning in July at the start of the state's fiscal year.

Planned Parenthood has clinics in Overland Park, Hays and Wichita. It keeps abortion financially separate from other services. But critics argue that any tax dollars for the group indirectly subsidize abortions.

Marten agreed with Planned Parenthood that it was singled out unfairly for advocating abortion rights, violating its rights to free speech and due legal process. He also said the provision is an improper attempt to impose a state rule on a federal funding program.

The budget provision didn't mention Planned Parenthood by name but required the state to distribute federal family planning dollars first to public health departments and hospitals. The policy would leave the health department with no funds to give to Planned Parenthood; most of the group's past allocation was committed to Sedgwick County's health department.