- Associated Press - Friday, October 28, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A federal appeals court decision siding with Utah’s Planned Parenthood branch in a court battle over a gubernatorial defunding order withstood an unusual court review Friday.

One of the judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals took the rare step of calling for a poll to ask the full court whether the case should be heard again, according to the order filed in the case.

The court ultimately voted 6 to 4 to let the ruling stand, with two judges abstained from the survey.

The dissenters raised concerns about whether there was enough evidence that Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s move was an unconstitutional political swipe at an organization he disagrees with.

The majority, though, decided there was enough in the record to support the decision.

Neither the state nor Planned Parenthood had asked the appeals court to reconsider the July ruling. Utah has since agreed not to block funding over advocacy for legal abortion or unproven allegations against the national organization.

The court battle started after Herbert cut off cash for sexually transmitted disease and sex education programs amid a national backlash following the release of secretly recorded videos showing out-of-state employees discussing fetal tissue from abortions.

Herbert said he was offended by the callousness of the discussion shown on the videos, though investigations have since cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

Several states have moved to strip Planned Parenthood of contracts and federal money, and the organization has also sued in states including Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana.

Most court decisions in other states allowed money to keep flowing, but the Utah case was different: A federal judge allowed the defunding order to stay in place. U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups decided the state has an interest in avoiding the appearance of corruption.

Planned Parenthood appealed. The 10th Circuit decision reversed the order and kept the money flowing.


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