SALT LAKE CITY — Planned Parenthood of Utah has asked an appeals court to put off a judge's ruling that would allow the state to end its federal funds starting Thursday.
Attorneys for the reproductive health organization filed a request in the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday for an emergency injunction against a federal court decision issued last week.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups denied Planned Parenthood's request to stop Gov. Gary Herbert from blocking about $230,000 in federal funds it receives through the state. Waddoups rejected its arguments for a preliminary injunction and canceled the temporary restraining order it had against the state.
Planned Parenthood wants the appeals court to impose an injunction before the funds expire Dec. 31 and pending the outcome of the lawsuit it filed against the state in September.
"Absent the requested relief, the state will terminate the federal pass-through funding provided to (Planned Parenthood of Utah) for critical reproductive health and education services, solely for reasons that violate (Planned Parenthood of Utah's) First Amendment, equal protection and due process rights," Planned Parenthood attorneys argue.
Lawyer Peggy Tomsic says in the court filing that Planned Parenthood asked the state late last week to refrain from cutting off the money pending the lawsuit, but it declined.
Attorneys for the state contend in a court filing Tuesday that Waddoups carefully considered and rejected Planned Parenthood's arguments. The judge's order, they say, concluded that the organization failed to justify the four factors required for a preliminary injunction.
"Nothing in Planned Parenthood’s emergency motion provides a basis for this court to find — in four days — that the district court’s conclusions on all four factors, reached after 10 weeks of careful study, constitute abuses of discretion," Utah Solicitor General Tyler Green wrote.
Tomsic argues that Utahns would be irreparably harmed if money for the programs is eliminated. The money was slated for two sex education programs, an STD testing program and an STD tracking database.
The district court incorrectly concluded that the public’s alleged interest in allowing the governor to exercise discretion on state contracts outweighs the harm to the public health in the absence of an injunction, according to the appeals court filing.
Waddoups concluded decisions about state contracts should be left to elected officials and not managed by the courts.
Herbert said last week it's his responsibility as governor to make discretionary decisions about state contracts. The funds would be redistributed to local health departments and other service providers that offer the same kind of health care for women that Planned Parenthood offers, he said.
Utah Planned Parenthood sued Herbert after he directed the state health department to stop disbursing funds to the organization in light of "ongoing concerns about the organization." Herbert announced his order after the release of several secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials bargaining over the price of fetal tissue.
National Planned Parenthood officials have called the videos highly edited and misleading.