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Planned Parenthood of Utah is ramping up its legal fight against the state and Gov. Gary Herbert.
The state arm of the national organization has appealed a judge's decision allowing Utah to cut some of its federal funding, shows a Sunday court filing with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups on Dec. 22 upheld the governor's order for a stop on about $275,000 in federal funds passing through the state and onto the reproductive health group.
Herbert directed the Utah Department of Health to withhold the money in August amid controversy about the national group's handling of aborted fetal tissue.
The debate was stoked by videos that a California anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, said showed national Planned Parenthood officers talking about fetal tissue transactions. Herbert was reacting to what he called casual, callous discussion in the recordings, he said at the time.
It announced in October it no longer would accept the reimbursement, even though investigations by Congress did not reveal any illegal activity.
Utah's Republican governor was acting on his own political agenda, attorney Peggy Tomsic said in court in October. But Waddoups sided with state attorneys, who countered Utah has the authority to cut contracts with a group whose associates are accused of wrongdoing.
The state had the right to avoid appearing corrupt, Waddoups wrote in the Dec. 22 order, even though the Utah branch did not break the law. Planned Parenthood is asking the appeals court to put the existing ruling on hold as the appeal plays out.
The ruling is out of step with other recent decisions upholding Planned Parenthood's contracts with Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana.
It also goes against the advice of officers at the Utah Department of Health, who wrote that thousands of Utahns, especially women, would be hurt by the decision.
The governor and Utah attorney general's office had no comment Monday. Herbert's spokeswoman Aimee Edwards pointed to a prior statement from the governor, saying he was glad the court recognized his right to block the money to STD testing and monitoring, as well as education programs.
Reporter Bob Mims contributed to this story