Kansas to Appeal Judge Marten’s Decision

By Dave Andrusko

Judge Thomas Marten

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said yesterday that the state will appeal Monday’s temporary injunction issued by U.S. Judge J. Thomas Marten. Judge Marten’s 36-page decision blocked a portion of the 2012 Kansas state budget that directs that family planning services financed in any way under “Title X” federal rules must be contracted primarily with public health clinics and secondarily with qualified non-public hospitals or health centers that provide comprehensive health care–primary and preventative.

Judge Marten’s opinion could have been lifted from one of the briefs filed by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. He accepted without quibble Planned Parenthood’s argument that (in his words) “The purpose of the statute was to single out, punish and exclude Planned Parenthood.”

Various state officials “hotly contested” Marten’s decision, as the Kansas City Star wrote, and responded vigorously. Dr. Robert Moser, who was  sued in his capacity as Secretary for Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said,  “Title X was not intended to be an entitlement program for Planned Parenthood. Other providers are already offering a fuller spectrum of health care for Kansas patients. This highly unusual ruling implies a private organization has a right to taxpayer subsidy. The people of Kansas disagree.”

“It appears that the Court declared a duly-enacted Kansas statute unconstitutional without engaging in the fact-finding one would expect before reaching such a conclusion,” Schmidt said in a prepared statement.

Planned Parenthood has already sued to overturn the law, and the immediate impact of the decision is that funding to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri will resume until the case is resolved.

In Kansas, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri performs abortion in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park. According to its website, 6,006 of its 26,553 patients received abortions in 2008, a whopping 22.6%. It does not offer primary and preventive care.

“Dr. Moser references the state budget provision passed this year that prioritizes recipients of Title X federal reimbursements to be full service public health clinics and hospitals,” explained Kathy Ostrowski, State Legislative Director for Kansans for Life. “When such health providers can count on receiving a certain dollar amount, it helps that community hire a general clinician who can also deliver health services for infants, youth, and seniors.”

There is no shortage of outlets that provide the services typically reimbursed under Title X, Ostrowski explained. “Kansas has approximately 80 public health clinics as well as many other full service health outlets that can provide these services.” She added, “These services require ordinary medical talent not unique to Planned Parenthood.”

As noted on Monday, it would have been a great surprise if Judge Marten had denied Planned Parenthood anything. There has been a national press campaign that portrays women’s health as being in jeopardy without Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri was especially eager to have the law blocked because money had already been shifted to the Sedgwick County health department to expand its family planning services. In addition, some of the $331,000 that would otherwise go to Planned Parenthood will go to  a qualified clinic in Ellis County.

Last month in a separate lawsuit U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia issued an injunction against the state’s new abortion facility regulation law. The injunction will stay in effect until there is a trial in the lawsuit which involves the other two Kansas abortion clinics—Aid for Women and Center for Women’s Health.

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