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Utah Planned Parenthood taking Gov. Herbert to court over blocked funding

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SALT LAKE CITY - The CEO of the Utah chapter of Planned Parenthood announced Monday they are suing the State of Utah for defunding the program.

They hired the same legal team that won the same-sex marriage lawsuit in Utah.  Anti-abortion groups say they applaud the governor’s decision to cut funds to the program and say the money should go to other organizations that provide health care for women.

Utah Planned Parenthood’s legal team filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in federal court against Gov. Gary Herbert and the State of Utah on Monday.

On Aug. 14, Herbert issued an order blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving federal money for STD education and prevention programs through the state health department.

This came after video surfaced online of Planned Parenthood executives allegedly discussing the price of fetal tissue.

“This action of Governor Herbert and his directive to the Utah Department of Health and other agencies is unprecedented,” said attorney for Planned Parenthood Peggy Tomsic.

On Monday, officials with Utah Planned Parenthood said the order from the governor came with no warning. CEO Karrie Galloway said she’ll do everything she can to continue to provide services to women and their families in Utah.

“We aren’t going to stand idly by,” Galloway said. “We aren’t going to allow the governor to play politics with our health and lives. We are standing up and fighting back.”

When asked about videos of directors of the organization allegedly discussing the sale of fetal body parts, Galloway said they were created by anti-abortion groups who wanted to frame the organization.

“This is the sole mission of this group, to make undercover videos, to edit them inappropriately, to malign people, to malign organizations, and to get visceral reactions from people,” she said.

Legal council for the organization says they will prove in court the services Planned Parenthood offers are vital to the well-being of women and their families.

“In fact, one of the targeting programs is an education after-school program teaching abstinence to children, teenagers and their parents,” Tomsic said.

Anti-abortion activists say they applaud the governor’s decision to refuse to spend tax-payer money on organizations that perform abortions.

“What the videos show, is they show how corrupt the abortion business is on every level of every organization that performs abortions,” said Callie Oppedisano, an anti-abortion advocate at St. John Baptist Catholic Church in Draper. “It shows that abortion is a money-maker, and that abortions are performed not to help women, but abortions are performed to make money.”

In a statement to Fox 13, the governor’s office said:

"Gov. Herbert stands by his actions to cease acting as a pass-through for federal funds to Planned Parenthood. He was offended by the actions of Planned Parenthood and the callousness with which they discussed human life. The health of Utahns, especially women, remains a priority for the governor. He will continue working with the state health department, local health departments, community health centers, non-profit clinics and others to provide these important services."

A motion hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning in federal court before Judge Clark Waddoups.