Planned Parenthood wins injunction against Utah

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ST. GEORGE — The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah obtained an order from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday granting emergency injunctive relief against Utah representatives Gov. Gary Herbert and Executive Director of the state’s Health Department Dr. Joseph K. Miner.

The motion for emergency injunctive relief was filed by Planned Parenthood of Utah Monday seeking to prevent Utah from terminating $275,000 in pass-through federal grant funding on Dec. 31. Herbert argued he blocked the money because he was offended by Planned Parenthood’s officials in other states talking about fetal tissue in videotape — videotape Wednesday’s injunctive order called controversial and attributed to the Center for Medical Progress.

The PPAU’s attorney, Peggy Tomsic of Salt Lake City, said in September that several congressional investigations found that Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong and the Utah chapter has followed the law.

Planned Parenthood has called the videos misleading and highly edited. In its news release Wednesday, the group stated the videos were created by a group of extreme anti-abortion activists with ties to violence and said they have been entirely discredited and debunked.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups upheld Herbert’s decision in a ruling on Dec. 22 but allowed the money to continue through the end of the year. The federal appeals court decision Wednesday will keep the money coming to Planned Parenthood in Utah for sexual-education programs — specifically non-abortion-related services, according to the 10th Circuit court’s order — and pending appeal of Waddoups’ decision.

The court considered four factors in granting the injunction, including whether PPAU had a likelihood of success on the appeal, the threat of irreparable harm to PPAU if the requested injunction pending appeal was denied, the absence of harm to the state if the injunction is granted and the risk of harm to the public interest.

“Based on our evaluation of those factors,” the court order states, “we conclude an injunction is appropriate pending the court’s determination of the merits.”

Planned Parenthood released a statement Wednesday praising the injunction, with comment from the Utah chapter’s CEO Katie Galloway:

We are thrilled with today’s decision, which will allow our trusted health care providers and educators to continue serving the thousands of Utahns who depend on us as the appeals process proceeds. In the mean time, we will count on our partners at the Utah Department of Health to continue honoring the four contracts slated to end December 31, 2015.

We will continue to stand up for the health and rights of thousands of Utahns who rely on Planned Parenthood for affordable health care and education.

Herbert’s office issued a statement from Jon Cox, the governor’s spokesman:

The governor is confident that once the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has the opportunity to look closely at the legal issues in this case, like Judge Waddoups, they will reach the same decision and agree that it is contrary to the public’s best interest to remove the governor’s discretion to make contract decisions on behalf on the state.

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