ACLU Challenges Kansas Law Restricting Federal Title X Funds

September 30, 2011 1:59 pm

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Kansas City, KS – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri filed a lawsuit today against a Kansas law that illegally restricts federal funding for family planning and reproductive health services.

Under federal law, any institution, public or private, may apply for family planning funds under Title X to provide these services. The Kansas law, however, restricts Title X funds only to public health entities, hospitals or special primary care centers that provide comprehensive preventative care.

The purpose of the law is to exclude abortion providers from the family planning program. The ACLU’s client, Dodge City Family Planning Clinic (DCFP) in Ford County, has never provided abortion care. It is one of only two institutions in the state excluded from funding. The other institution, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, previously filed a lawsuit against this restriction. DCFP is seeking to intervene in that case.

“This law is just the latest dire consequence of the Kansas legislature’s continued assault on women’s health,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “In its zeal to deny funding for abortion services, the legislature has passed a law that will deny a broad range of critical health-care to populations that need it the most. The women and families of Ford County are nothing more than collateral damage in the state’s illegal attempt to override federal guidelines.”

DCFP is the only source of family planning services in rural Ford County and the surrounding area, which has a large low-income and Latino population. For over 35 years, the small clinic has used Title X funds to provide contraception, Pap tests, cancer screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. It is too small to be a hospital or a special primary care center. The law, therefore, strips it of 40 percent of its funding, effectively forcing it to shut down.

The two other clinics in the county – the department of health and a special primary care center – either do not offer family planning services or do so in a very limited capacity, with few services available in Spanish and only a male health-care provider available to women who may wish to receive reproductive health-care from a female provider.

The state stripped DCFP of federal Title X funds on July 1. Since then, DCFP’s two staff members – a nurse practitioner and a receptionist – have continued to provide services without drawing a salary in order to meet the needs of the people they serve. However, other funders have begun to withdraw their support in anticipation of the clinic’s closure. In turn, the staff will have to close the clinic within a very few weeks – if not days.

“This law was designed to deny women access to critical, legal health services and should never have been passed in the first place,” said Doug Bonney, chief counsel & legal director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri. “We are asking the court to immediately block further enforcement of this law so all health-care providers in the state, including DCFP, can continue to provide health-care to the patients who count on them.”

For more information on this case, please visit:…

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