By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Besieged on all sides by lawsuits or state legislation aimed at either defunding them or regulating their abortion practice, a Planned Parenthood spokesman admitted that the amount of litigation they are currently involved in is “unprecedented.”
For instance, in just the past week, it has been involved in legal action in the state of Indiana where a judge agreed to block a state law that cuts off its funding, a ruling that is now being appealed by the state. In the same week, Planned Parenthood announced it would file suit in Kansas to prevent the imposition of abortion clinic regulations that could put their clinics out of business. At the same time, in South Dakota, they were in court arguing that a 72-hour waiting period was unconstitutional.
“What’s different this year … is the fact that we are either named or contemplated in so many pieces of legislation,” said Roger Evans, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of public policy litigation to Politico. “We will probably be litigating in about six states by the time we’re done, and that is completely unprecedented from ever before.”
In just this month alone, a Tennessee Senate committee passed a budget bill with an amendment denying funds to Planned Parenthood. Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee this month approved a bill that will deny the organization more than $1 million a year in family planning. Legislation is also pending in the Texas Senate that would prohibit Planned Parenthood from delivering services under the Women’s Health Program, a bill that contains a provision to dissolve the entire program if Planned Parenthood sues in court and wins. The abortion giant is also considering filing a lawsuit in North Carolina to challenge a provision in the state’s budget that defunds the group.
At present, a total of eight states have taken initiatives to defund Planned Parenthood, putting at risk a combined total of more than $60 million in taxpayer funds.
In addition to these headaches, dozens of other measures are pending in states across the country which will impose a variety of abortion restrictions from personhood amendments to increased clinic regulation, from required ultra-sounds to fetal pain bills.
Planned Parenthood has also been losing big in the public relations field after dozens of undercover stings revealed a systemic failure within the organization to report cases of suspected statutory rape. In addition to turning the public against them, these stings have also prompted investigations in several states and given state lawmakers all the more reason to strip them of taxpayer funds.
They have no choice but to fight, and they are doing so as aggressively as they can without risking a case going to the Supreme Court which the pro-abortion community fears could result in more, not less, restrictions on abortion.
“We try to bring litigation whenever something is enacted that targets us or impedes access to the services that we provide,” Evans said. “If a state enacts a ban on abortion at 22 weeks and we don’t provide abortion any later than that, whatever we think of the legislation, we’re not in a place to litigate.”
Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group that has been a key player in the thrust to defund Planned Parenthood, says that while she expects the group’s legal challenges to fail, their best shot at overturning some of these laws will be in court.
“It’s a tidal wave. Their best hope for stopping it is in court, and they know that,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “They feel very strongly about the fact that they have solid ground, but our prediction is it won’t hold up in court.”
One thing is for certain – these legal battles will be lengthy and costly because the pro-life community has no intention of backing down.
Click here for a state-by-state scoreboard on efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
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