Planned Parenthood has been at the center of policy and budgeting debates ever since a California anti-abortion group published videos allegedly portraying Planned Parenthood representatives describing how they provide fetal tissues from abortions to medical researchers. The videos sparked a fierce debate over ethics, morality and, of course, religion throughout the country.
The videos raised significant alarms among politicians both at the federal and state levels. Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Utah have all moved forward with attempting to strip Planned Parenthood contracts and the federal funding that those states distribute to the organization. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who admitted to being deeply offended by the videos, decided to take matters into his own hands and strip Planned Parenthood of more than $200,000 in federal money the group receives annually. Mind you, Planned Parenthood does not use federal or state money to perform abortion services. In fact, the organization is legally prohibited from doing so.
Nonetheless, Gov. Herbert made the call to defund the controversial organization. On Monday, though, his decision was met almost immediately with a lawsuit from the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that Gov. Herbert had acted unconstitutionally and blocked the governor’s order to stop federal funding from reaching the organization.
Peggy Tomsic, a lawyer for the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said that Gov. Herbert acted on his own personal and political agenda, especially considering that none of the videos released had anything to do with Utah’s Planned Parenthood affiliates or representatives. Utah Solicitor General Tyler Green told the court that Gov. Herbert was concerned that Planned Parenthood was “coloring outside the lines.” But Judge Waddoups didn’t take the bait, instead asking Mr. Green, “Don’t you find it troubling that the governor decided to take this action before this investigation into the supposed activity outside the lines has even been completed?”
After the hearing, Tomsic said that Gov. Herbert’s decision, had it not been ruled unconstitutional, would have prevented an estimated 50,000 people a year from accessing vital services that are especially critical for high-risk and underserved Utah citizens.