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Judge temporarily blocks Kansas' family planning money restrictions

By Bill Mears, CNN
  • NEW: Planned Parenthood lauds the decision
  • The temporary injunction is issued by a federal judge in Wichita, Kansas
  • The law would set high eligibility conditions on support for reproductive services
  • Planned Parenthood says it would have to close clinics and raise fees under the law

(CNN) -- A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a new Kansas law designed to strip Planned Parenthood's family planning funds.

The injunction issued Monday by Judge Thomas Marten in Wichita, Kansas, is a setback for state lawmakers and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

Planned Parenthood officials said it would allow them to continue to offer services such as pap smears, birth control, and breast exams to women who could not otherwise afford them.

"We're pleased that today's decision allows us to honor that commitment, at least while this lawsuit proceeds," said Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

The law would set high eligibility conditions for poor women seeking reproductive services, including through the state chapter of Planned Parenthood. It would block federal Medicaid funding to the group, which claimed it would have to close some of its clinics and raises fees.

The state argued the federal courts should stay out of state spending matters, and that state agencies could take care of patients who would have gone to Planned Parenthood.

Similar legislative efforts to partially or totally defund Planned Parenthood have been passed in Ohio and debated in six other states.

Planned Parenthood is prohibited under federal law from using "family planning services" funding to pay for abortions. Such family funding services typically pay for pap smears, birth control, breast exams and annual exams.

The fact that Planned Parenthood clinics perform abortions has prompted efforts by some lawmakers to defund all of the group's government funding.

Federal law also bans using Medicaid funds to pay for abortions in most instances. But the Kansas law is more restrictive.

Planned Parenthood said that under the law, women who rely on Medicaid coverage could no longer receive services at any of the group's statewide centers.

More than 5,700 people are served in Kansas by Planned Parenthood through the federal funded program known as Title X.

Medicaid is a nationwide health program for low-income patients, funded primarily by federal money but administered by the states. Opponents of the new law say it would violate federal law by depriving Medicaid patients of their choice of health care provider.

The case is Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri v. Brownback. (2:11-CV-2357).