Federal judge blocks measure targeting Planned Parenthood

Posted August 19, 2011 8:31 p.m. EDT
Updated August 20, 2011 11:56 a.m. EDT

A federal judge in NC's Middle District has issued a temporary injunction staying a state-mandated block to public funding for NC's Planned Parenthood clinics.

The ruling posted this evening by Judge James Beaty Jr. grants a request by Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina to block the implementation of a provision in this year's budget that would cut off any funds - even federal - that pass through the state to Planned Parenthood. The block will stay in place until the lawsuit that prompted it is resolved.

Republican legislative leaders said the block was necessary because Planned Parenthood is the leading provider of abortions in North Carolina. But existing law already specifies that taxpayer dollars cannot be used to subsidize abortions.

The state and federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives is earmarked for family planning, primary health care for low-income women, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

Democrats who opposed the budget provision said it would make health care less accessible to low-income women in many areas of North Carolina. Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, even suggested the provision might be unconstitutional because it singles out one entity - Planned Parenthood - for legal action. Beaty agreed with both those assertions in his ruling.

Planned Parenthood of North Carolina sued to block the provision in federal court in July, saying its free-speech rights were being violated. 

The ruling follows similar injunctions by judges in Indiana and Kansas, where GOP legislatures approved similar provisions cutting off Planned Parenthood's funding.  Both states say they'll appeal the ruling.