SALT LAKE CITY -- Governor Gary Herbert said he believed he is on "solid footing" when it comes to his decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.
"I believe that we are on solid footing when it comes to the state's ability to contract," the governor said in a meeting with reporters on Tuesday.
The governor's comments came as the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver was hearing arguments over his decision to stop acting as a "pass through" for federal funding for Planned Parenthood of Utah. The reproductive rights group was using the money for STD testing and an after-school program. Herbert yanked the funding after videos surfaced purporting to show national executives of Planned Parenthood discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has said the videos were heavily edited and misleading.
A federal judge sided with the governor, ruling he did not overstep his authority. Planned Parenthood of Utah appealed to the 10th Circuit Court.
"We feel confident that the court will rule in favor of our patients and education clients. While the court considers our case, our doors will remain open. Utahns can continue to rely on Planned Parenthood for care and education – no matter what," Planned Parenthood of Utah CEO Karrie Galloway said in a statement to FOX 13 following the arguments.
Meanwhile, the Utah State Legislature debated abortion bills. Senate Bill 234, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, was heard in a packed House committee on Tuesday night. The bill, which requires an analgesic or an anesthetic to be used on a fetus at 20 weeks gestation, also requires doctors to inform patients a fetus may feel pain (abortion rights activists disputed it).
The bill passed on a 7-4 vote and goes to the full House for consideration.
Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, was not considered by a House committee on Tuesday. Oda's bill would have banned the use of medical instruments for what he called "dismemberment abortions." The bill had questions about its constitutionality.
"It's really disappointing to see such unconstitutional and clear violation of federal law make it that far at the Utah legislature," said Planned Parenthood's Kate Kelly.
Oda told FOX 13 he would bring the bill back next year.
"I think it's the right thing to do. If you've ever seen pictures of dismembered, aborted fetuses, it's despicable," he said.