A federal judge has ruled that the state of Utah can cut off funds to Planned Parenthood, reversing an earlier decision requiring the state to keep funding the abortion provider.
Utah cut off funds to Planned Parenthood after undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress showed the organization negotiating to sell tissue from aborted fetuses. Planned Parenthood later revised its policy to stop receiving reimbursements for fetal tissue in the wake of the release of the videos.
Planned Parenthood sued Utah for cutting off state funds, resulting in a temporary restraining order to keep funding the organization on the grounds that abortion is a constitutional right. Tuesday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups overturns the temporary order, concluding it would set a bad precedent if the state is denied the right to end contracts at will. The ruling also makes the point that the exercise of political discretion from elected leaders is not something that courts should be encroaching on. From Waddoups's ruling:
The final factor to consider is whether an injunction is in the public interest. After the Governor issued his directive, individuals at the Department sought to dissuade him from terminating the contracts. They asserted that other providers could not fulfill the contracts as well as Plaintiff and that terminating its relationship with Plaintiff could jeopardize future funding from the federal government. The Governor reiterated he intended to redirect the funding to other qualified providers, but it is not clear he will be able to do so. Thus, some members of the public may be harmed if the contracts terminate.
Balanced against this harm is the right of the elected Governor of this State to make decisions about what is in the best interest of the State. These contracts relate to discretionary programs. The State has acted as an intermediary to pass through federal funds to Plaintiff, and has concluded it no longer desires to do so. It is contrary to the public's interest to remove from the Governor the very discretion his position entails. Indeed, these are the types of decisions that should be left to elected officials and not managed by the courts. The court therefore concludes it is not in the public interest to enjoin the defendants from terminating the contracts at issue.
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