This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A federal judge "completely disregarded" evidence and abused his discretion in allowing Utah to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, attorneys for the Salt Lake City-based affiliate argued in court documents filed this week.
Planned Parenthood wants the Denver-based federal appeals court to block an August directive from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert cutting $275,000 for sexually transmitted disease and youth education programs. Herbert's order was a reaction to the release of videos secretly recorded by anti-abortion activists; the Republican governor said he had concerns the organization had "colored outside the lines."
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed the money to stay on course as it considers a December ruling issued in Salt Lake City by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups. Utah had a right to cut the contracts, Waddoups said, in order to avoid appearing corrupt.
But Planned Parenthood attorneys in documents filed Tuesday said the order threatens the health of Utahns who rely on the organization for health care and hurts Planned Parenthood's reputation. This "far outweighs any potential harm to the state," they wrote, citing emails from Utah Department of Health staff members saying that thousands of Utahns would be negatively affected.
On Monday, a Texas grand jury investigating Planned Parenthood instead moved to charge anti-abortion activists behind the recordings with crimes related to buying human organs and records-tampering.
At the Capitol on Thursday, the move drew support for the Utah organization from some Democratic lawmakers. House Democrats called for Herbert to double back on the order in a prepared statement.
"The governor reacted to a heavily edited, highly political video," Salt Lake City Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck said, adding that the group "provides necessary medical services like check-ups and family planning."
Phone and email messages left with the governor's office Thursday morning were not immediately returned.
Planned Parenthood sued Herbert after his Aug. 14 announcement, saying its rights to free speech and due process were violated when the governor cut contracts.
The appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments March 8.