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Federal judge denies Planned Parenthood request to uphold contract with Oklahoma

Judge Stephen Friot of the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma [official website] on Monday denied a request from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland [official website] to prevent Oklahoma from terminating its contract with them. Planned Parenthood filed a preliminary injunction after the Oklahoma State Department of Health [official website] notified the organization that it would be ending its contract with the organization [AP report]. At issue is the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) [official website] program which provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low income pregnant women. Planned Parenthood had participated in the Oklahoma WIC for 18 years. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland's President and CEO Jill June released a statement [press release] expressing her disappointment with the decision and explaining that they will be forced to end WIC services on December 31, which may ultimately result in the closing of its health center in West Tulsa. Planned Parenthood alleges that the state decided to terminate the contract because the organization offers abortion services.

Monday's decision is merely the latest in a number of controversies regarding reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] in Oklahoma. Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held [JURIST report] that two state laws limiting abortion rights unconstitutionally interfered with patients' and physicians' rights to make decisions regarding medical treatment. In October 2011, an Oklahoma law restricting the use of abortion inducing drugs was temporarily blocked [JURIST report] by a state court. In April 2011, Oklahoma's governor signed [JURIST report] a bill into law which restricts abortions after 20 weeks.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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