Kansas to comply with Planned Parenthood order

Kansas officials said Wednesday the state will obey a federal judge’s order to immediately fund Planned Parenthood clinics while the state pursues an appeal.

The state is appealing a decision that blocked enforcement of a new statute stripping it all of all federal funding for non-abortion services.

“The State of Kansas intends to immediately comply with the order of the court,” the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a statement Wednesday. “At the same time, the State will continue to pursue reversal of this order on appeal.”

The Kansas attorney general’s office also issued a similar statement on Wednesday.

The move comes a day after U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ordered the state to continue paying Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri on the same quarterly schedule that existed before a new state law stripped it of all federal funding for non-abortion services. He also rejected the state’s request that the group post a bond.

Planned Parenthood won a temporary injunction on Aug. 1 to block enforcement of a provision of the state budget preventing the organization from receiving any of the state’s share of federal family planning dollar. Marten ordered at that time that payments continue to the group but the funding had been stalled amid legal maneuvering until Tuesday’s order.

Their lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a new state law which requires Kansas to allocate federal family planning dollars first to public health departments and hospitals, leaving no money for Planned Parenthood or similar groups.

Planned Parenthood said in a news release that KDHE had notified it Wednesday that it would continue Title X federal funding as ordered by the court. The clinic had received $330,000 a year in Title X federal funding through the state for its clinics in Hays and Wichita that serve 5,700 patients.

The money helps low-income individuals with reproductive health care services such as birth control, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

“We are pleased the State and Governor Sam Brownback have decided to comply with the Court’s order. This is a clear victory for the health and safety of Kansas women and families,” the agency said. “The continuance of the Title X funding will enable our Wichita and Hays patients to receive services without interruption.”

Less clear is the fate of the Dodge City Family Planning Clinic, which is not a party to the lawsuit and is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood. The Dodge City clinic also lost its $39,000 in annual Title X funding after the Legislature passed the new law aimed at cutting funding for Planned Parenthood.

KDHE spokeswoman Miranda Myrick said she did not know whether the Dodge City clinic also will get its federal funding.

Karla Demuth, director of the Dodge City Family Planning Clinic, said she got a call Wednesday from KDHE asking whether the clinic was still open, but received no word on whether the state also will continue to it. The Dodge City Family Planning Clinic, which provides no abortion services, serves about 800 low-income patients.

Demuth, who also is a nurse practitioner, told The Associated Press that she and the receptionist have been working without pay and looking for other employment as they struggle to keep the Dodge City clinic open.

“We are just collateral damage from this,” Demuth said.

She said Wednesday’s call from KDHE was the first contact she had with the agency since she got a June 13 letter informing them that the clinic would not get any Title X funds this year in the wake of the new statute.

“We are just a small, little nonprofit agency just trying to provide service to the low income,” Demuth said. “It has been a really sad situation.”