Reproductive Health

States Attack Planned Parenthood on Funding, Regs

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The battle over funding Planned Parenthood created a media feeding frenzy in several states this summer. The angry buzz boils down to a few key questions about states' power to cut funding and impose prohibitive regulations.

(WOMENSENEWS)--When the U.S. Senate blocked a House bill to stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood in February, the fight still continued in a number of state legislatures and courts.

Several states--including Kansas, North Carolina, Indiana and Arizona—have spent months wrangling over whether federal money can fund the country's largest provider of reproductive health services.

The Hyde Amendment has blocked federal money from funding Planned Parenthood's abortion services since 1976, but anti-choice lawmakers argue that federal money should have no association with abortion services whatsoever. So the funding fight is a proxy battle over abortion rights.

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A media survey of lawsuit coverage reveals two key legal questions behind much of the legal chatter.

No. 1: Can state lawmakers use the budgeting process to block federal contributions to Planned Parenthood, which receives about one-third of all federal family-planning appropriations?

No. 2: Can lawmakers subject Planned Parenthood clinics to prohibitive regulations through so-called TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers)?

The legal battle lines over these questions could be washed away if anti-choicepoliticians persuade the 12-member deficit-slashing "super committee" of House and Senate members to give states more freedom in how they use Medicaid money. If that happens, states controlled by anti-choice legislators would get a lump payment each year and could choose to allocate funding away from Planned Parenthood.

For now, however, here is how these two legal strategies--sometimes in combination--are playing out in a few states.

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