A federal judge on Monday blocked implementation of a new Kansas law that would strip federal family planning funding from the state's Planned Parenthood chapter, dealing Republican lawmakers their second major legal setback to their recent moves against abortion providers.
U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ordered the state to immediately resume funding for Planned Parenthood, agreeing with Planned Parenthood that without the injunction the group would suffer irreparable harm while its challenge to the law works its way through the courts.
Planned Parenthood said it would be forced to close its clinic in the western Kansas city of Hays unless the court immediately prohibited the state from stripping it of $330,000 in federal Title X annual funding. It contended that its 5,700 patients would also face higher costs and have less access to services and longer wait or travel times for appointments.
The group is suing to block a budget provision that requires federal family planning dollars granted to the state by the federal government to go first to public health departments and hospitals. It leaves no money for Planned Parenthood and similar groups.
The Title X funding at issue targets low income individuals and helps pay for reproductive health care services such as contraception, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
The state contends that the injunction was unnecessary because other entities could provide the same services that Planned Parenthood offers in Sedgwick and Ellis counties.
Monday's hearing was the first legal test of the statute. Planned Parenthood is challenging its constitutionality based on the Supremacy Clause, which prohibits states from imposing conditions of eligibility on federal programs that are not required by federal law.
Kansas has defended the statute as a matter of state sovereignty, arguing that an injunction would unconstitutionally replace the state's discretion with the court's judgment.
Planned Parenthood offers abortion services in Kansas only at its clinic in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb, but it also has clinics in Wichita and Hays.
Marten's order is the second setback for the state on the abortion issue this summer. A federal judge in Kansas City, Kan., in July issued a temporary injunction against new licensing rules for abortion providers that tell providers what drugs and equipment they must stock and set requirements for room sizes and temperatures, among other things. But the judge blocked their enforcement until a lawsuit over the rules is resolved.