On Thursday, two federal appeals court judges said that the Planned Parenthood Foundation must produce a document that it claims is irrelevant.
Planned Parenthood maintains the document has no bearing on the political question of federal funding for abortion providers because it concerns why women are being denied care.
The judges, however, ruled that the document’s disclosure would be relevant because it details how the State of Texas can prosecute Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
The judges are enforcing the Supreme Court’s 1982 McCullen v. Coakley decision that established a strong precedent for showing that public money is at stake, and that the courts have an obligation to defend the integrity of federal funding programs.
Thursday’s decision to release a document related to enforcement of federal law is just one of many cases that have focused on protecting public funds for health care providers that provide abortion services, which has also been upheld by the D.C. Circuit, the Second Circuit, and most recently the Sixth Circuit.
Both the Sixth and Sixth courts recently held in Doe v. Bolton that it was irrelevant to prosecute and prosecute abortion providers on private grounds for rendering federal funds to abortion providers.
But the Supreme Court declined to issue an order enjoining the prosecution, opting to leave those rulings in place.
The court just dismissed the Planned Parenthood Foundation’s appeal. When it was issued on Sept. 13, all eight of the participating judges on the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a unanimous opinion denying it.
That ruling was on an appeal that would have required Planned Parenthood to produce the offending document.
The suit was brought by the Thomas More Society (TMS) on behalf of several Republican candidates in Ohio.
“This decision confirms the importance of protecting our federal funding programs from these abortion advocates,” said Dave Dise, senior counsel at TMS. “And it should serve as a clarion call to Congress to make sure that these taxpayer dollars are protected from coming under attack by those who oppose life.”
Supporters of Planned Parenthood point out that the document is no more relevant to the political question of federal funding for abortion providers than an application for US Department of Education grant money.
The lawyers in the case took the Fifth Amendment argument for political question post-facto.
“No state shall make any law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” the authors of the Thomas More Society brief stated.
TMS has produced numerous successful legal challenges to abortion on the grounds that any taxpayer money has to come with a strong guard against political questions that arise from it.
“We have a long tradition of pushing the envelope to defend the lives of American citizens, whether it is opposing legalized euthanasia in Missouri, preventing adoptions and allowing felons to marry, or maintaining proper staffing for embryonic stem cell research,” noted Dr. Mark Crichton, TMS’ president and CEO.
“Now we are more than ever committed to protecting life in all its stages, and to protecting public funds in the health care field when it is necessary to do so.”
It is heartening to see judges proving that there is another, stronger legal option for the Supreme Court to look at in this area.
The day may come when just reporting on evidence is more important than preserving our current practice of dumping over $250 billion per year into illegal abortions.
Tony Perkins is the president of Family Research Council.