Federal appeals court grants Planned Parenthood’s restraining order against Utah

Posted at 12:26 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-13 08:50:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A federal appeals court has granted Planned Parenthood's restraining order against the state of Utah, prohibiting Governor Gary Herbert from cutting off funding to the reproductive rights group.

In an order issued Tuesday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver reversed a decision made by a federal judge here in Utah, which allowed the governor to block federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. The group will get money to continue sex education and sexually transmitted infection testing, while the case continues to be litigated in the courts.

In a statement, Governor Herbert's office said he was disappointed with the ruling.

"The governor is disappointed with the court’s split decision today," said Herbert spokesman Jon Cox. "He believes that it is in the public’s best interest to allow state officials to make contract decisions on behalf of the state, rather than a distant federal court. The governor will work with the attorney general to review the court’s decision and determine the best course of action moving forward."

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Karrie Galloway, Executive Director for Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, and her legal team, called continuing to fight to cut their funding a waste of taxpayer money.

"It is a decision that sets a clear boundary in terms of what a political elected official can do in making a personal political choice,” said Peggy Tomsic, the attorney representing Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.

"His conservative pro-life stance demonstrated his personal motivation for punishing Planned Parenthood,” said Tomsic of the ruling.

Galloway said Planned Parenthood has won at this point.

"It said that the governor's actions were political.  He is an avowed anti-choice person and he felt the need to punish Planned Parenthood," Galloway said.

Governor Herbert ordered Planned Parenthood's funding blocked last year after videos surfaced that purported to show national leaders of the group discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has said the videos are heavily edited and misleading.

In its ruling, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court wrote that it appeared the governor was driven by his opposition to abortion.

"Considering all of this evidence together, we conclude that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert issued the Directive to punish PPAU for the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights it has identified in this litigation. In particular, we conclude that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert, a politician and admitted opponent of abortion, viewed the situation that presented itself by release of the CMP videos as an opportunity to take public action against PPAU, deprive it of pass-through federal funding, and potentially weaken the organization and hamper its ability to provide and advocate for abortion services," Judge Mary Beck Briscoe wrote.

"This seems especially true given Herbert’s concession that the allegations made by CMP are unproven and in fact false, and in light of the current political climate, including the efforts by abortion opponents both in the State of Utah and nationally to defund Planned Parenthood and its affiliates."

Judge Robert Bacharach agreed in part with the ruling, but also dissented.

"I respectfully disagree with the majority’s conclusion that PPAU has shown a likelihood of success on the merits of the claims involving unconstitutional conditions. Accordingly, I would affirm the district court’s denial of PPAU’s motion for a preliminary injunction," he wrote.

Read the 10th Circuit Court ruling here: