Planned Parenthood of North Carolina has won the first round of a legal struggle over a provision in the new state budget. A federal court has blocked the implementation of a provision that specifically prohibits Planned Parenthood from receiving funds administered by the state Department of Health and Human Services. Total state and federal funding for women’s health programs was not affected, but the loss of funding meant that several Planned Parenthood clinics in North Carolina could have been in a financially precarious position. (Read the court’s full decision here, via WRAL’s Laura Leslie)
The decision will allow Planned Parenthood to continue to receive over $200,000 in state and federal funds for several teen and Hispanic pregnancy prevention programs while the case is argued. Current law forbids taxpayer dollars from directly funding abortion, but many are uneasy with taxpayer dollars going to the nation’s largest abortion provider. Approximately 33% of nationwide Planned Parenthood funding comes from government sources, which opponents say frees up money to pay for abortions.
Planned Parenthood of North Carolina argues that they were targeted for their advocacy in favor of abortion rights, and that the provision is an unconstitutional violation of their free speech rights. They also allege that the program violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution by imposing state regulations above and beyond the parameters of the federal program. The state has countered by arguing that Planned Parenthood has no “right” to funding, and that the measure was a legitimate way to continue prioritizing live births over abortions.
The federal courts may also hear challenges to another piece of pro-life legislation. House Bill 854, the Woman’s Right to Know Act, which recently passed over Gov. Perdue’s veto, which implemented several new restrictions on abortions within the state. Abortion rights groups have reportedly been coordinating on how to block implementation of the law. Facing an increasingly hostile atmosphere from Republican controlled state legislatures and the House of Representatives, the federal courts may be the saviours for abortion groups nationwide.