The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] ruled [text, PDF] on Tuesday that the Kansas legislature can withhold federal funding for two Planned Parenthood [advocacy website] clinics. In the original lawsuit, Planned Parenthood challenged a state law that stripped Planned Parenthood of funding under Title X because the group provides abortion services. US District Court Judge Thomas Marten [official profile] blocked [JURIST report] the enforcement of the state law in 2011, finding it to be unconstitutional. The appeals court reversed the district court’s decision, holding that the legislation does not restrict the rights of speech or association through the allocation of funds and that the motivation behind the legislation is irrelevant. The court overturned the ruling in a 2-1 vote [AP report], so the decision will likely be appealed to the full court for a hearing.
Abortion continues to be a hot-button legal, political and moral issue within the ongoing debate over reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder]. A number of states have proposed laws to make abortions illegal after 20 weeks. Earlier this month the West Virginia legislature approved a bill [JURIST report] to prohibit abortions later than 20 weeks after conception. In February the Mississippi House of Representative also approved [JURIST report] a 20-week abortion ban. In January the US Supreme Court declined to rule on Arizona’s attempt to revive its 20-week ban on abortions after it was struck down [JURIST reports] on constitutional grounds by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last May. The US House of Representatives voted [JURIST report] in favor of a federal law banning 20-week abortions in June, but the bill failed [WP report] to gain widespread support in the Democratic-controlled US Senate.