SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A federal judge in Utah has ruled that the state may strip the abortion giant Planned Parenthood of its funding while the organization proceeds with a lawsuit over being defunded.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups, nominated to the bench by then-President George W. Bush, reversed an earlier decision calling for temporary funding. Waddoups stated that Utah had an interest in “avoiding the appearance of corruption” by funding the embattled organization, even if Planned Parenthood facilities in the state weren’t specifically guilty of any crimes.
“Indeed, these are the types of decisions that should be left to elected officials, and not managed by the courts,” he declared.
As previously reported, Republican Gov. Gary Hebert directed the Utah Department of Health to revoke funding in August following the release of videos from the Center for Medical Progress. The series of videos provided undercover footage of various Planned Parenthood officials apparently admitting to engaging in the harvesting and sale of the organs of aborted babies.
“The allegations against Planned Parenthood are deeply troubling,” Hebert wrote in a statement. “In light of ongoing concerns about the organization, I have instructed state agencies to cease acting as an intermediary for pass-through federal funds to Planned Parenthood.”
He said that he was reacting to the “casualness” and “callousness” of how those in the videos spoke of the removal of various organs as they extracted the deceased child from his or her mother’s body.
According to reports, Planned Parenthood in Utah received approximately $100,000 this year for testing residents for sexually transmitted diseases, $115,000 for abstinence and “personal responsibility education” and over $1,000 to provide pregnancy tests and other tests to rape victims.
“I appreciate today’s court decision which recognizes my ability to make contract decisions on behalf of the state,” Herbert said in a statement. “As I have said, the health of all Utahns remains a priority, and I will continue to work with the Utah Department of Health, local health departments, community health centers, non-profit clinics and others to ensure access to these important services.”
He further explained to reporters that the funds will go to women’s health organizations, specifically those that don’t offer abortion services.
“If anything, we’ll have additional access points, more access points [and] better access to women’s health,” he told KSL News Radio. “So the idea that this is somehow going to harm women is fallacious.”
Planned Parenthood Association of Utah CEO Karrie Galloway said that the group is considering its legal options.
“We are reviewing next steps with our attorneys, and we will be looking at every possible way to continue the critical health care and education programs that are at risk,” she stated.
Utah Department of Health spokesman Tom Hudachko says that funding for Planned Parenthood’s sex education program and its testing for sexually transmitted diseases will end on Dec. 31.