Wednesday, March 13, 2019

6th Circuit En Banc Upholds Planned Parenthood Funding Cut-Off

In Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Hodges, (6th Cir., March 12, 2019), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, by a vote of 11-6 upheld an Ohio law which cuts off state funding for Planned Parenthood. At issue was the cut-off of funding for two Planned Parenthood health centers because they are affiliated with an "entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions." The majority explained, in part:
As the district court saw it, the Ohio law imposes two unconstitutional conditions on Planned Parenthood. It denies the organization funding if it continues to perform abortions— what the court perceived to be a due process violation. And the law denies the organization funding if it continues to promote abortion—what the court perceived to be a free speech violation. To prevail, Planned Parenthood must show that both limitations—the conduct and speech requirements—violate the U.S. Constitution. Ohio may deny funding to Planned Parenthood in other words if either limitation satisfies the Constitution. Because the conduct component of the Ohio law does not impose an unconstitutional condition in violation of due process, we need not reach the free speech claim.
Judge White's dissent (joined by 5 others) argued:
The majority avoids this straightforward application of the unconstitutional-conditions doctrine primarily by adopting an unprecedented rule that abortion providers—entities that are necessary to ensure a woman’s right to safe abortions—cannot prevail in challenging the Statute. An abortion provider’s constitutional right may be derivative of the patient’s right—but it is a right nonetheless.
Politico reports on the decision. [Thanks to Tom Rutledge for the lead.]