Judge Temporarily Blocks Kansas Law Restricting Federal Title X Funds

October 18, 2011 6:00 pm

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Law Targeted Abortion Providers and Threatened Closure of Dodge City Clinic that Never Offered Abortion Care

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KANSAS CITY, KS – A Kansas judge today temporarily blocked a state law that restricts federal funding for family planning and reproductive health services after the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri last month filed a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality. The judge’s order will allow Dodge City Family Planning Clinic, the plaintiff in the ACLU’s lawsuit, to continue to provide services to low-income residents of rural Ford County.

“While health care providers in the state, including DCFP, can breathe easier and focus on supporting their patients, we hope the courts will strike down this law once and for all,” said Doug Bonney, chief counsel & legal director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri. “The state has no business denying women access to critical, legal health services.”

DCFP and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri are the only two institutions denied funding by the law, which was designed to target abortion providers. DCFP has never provided abortions but joined Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit challenging the statute. Under federal law, any institution, public or private, may apply for family planning funds under Title X. The Kansas law, however, restricts Title X funds only to public health entities, hospitals or special primary care centers that provide comprehensive preventive care.

For over 35 years, DCFP has been the only Title X family planning provider in Ford County and the surrounding areas to provide contraception, Pap tests, cancer screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. It is too small to be considered a hospital or a special primary care center. As of the July 1, the law stripped DCFP of the Title X funds that represented 40 percent of its funding.

Since then, DCFP would have shut down if its two staff members – a nurse practitioner and a receptionist – had not started to provide services without drawing a salary in order to meet the needs of the people they serve. However, after several months, they found they could no longer continue to provide services without a salary.

“We are grateful that the judge has temporarily halted this latest assault on women’s health by the Kansas legislature,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “The women of Ford County deserve better than to become collateral damage in the legislature’s all-out assault on women’s access to abortion care in Kansas.”

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