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Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Family Planning Suit

The issue of state funded family planning services came before the Missouri Supreme Court. KSMU's Missy Shelton was there for the oral arguments presented by both sides and files this report.

The plaintiff in this case is a Missouri taxpayer, Daniel Shipley.

In his suit, Shipley contends the state department of health should not have contracted with Planned Parenthood and given the organization state funds in 2000 and 2003 to provide family planning services.

The appropriations bill stipulated that an entity that provides abortions can't receive family planning funds.

Shipley says Planned Parenthood never should've received state

funds to offer family planning services.

Shipley's lawsuit ended up before the Supreme Court after Planned Paretnhood appealed a trial court decision that ordered Planned Parenthood to repay the state the money it had received for providing family planning services.

Robert Nienhaus, one of Shipley's lawyers argued before the Missouri Supreme Court that the Department of Health was wrong when it allowed Planned Parenthood to receive funding.

Nienhaus urged the court to uphold the lower court ruling that would force Planned Parenthood to repay the state about 700 thousand dollars plus interest.

But Supreme Court Judge Laura Denvir Stith asked Nienhaus during oral arguments if the state could do that.

That's the issue that concerns Paula Gianino, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St Louis Region.

Speaking to KSMU after oral arguments were presented to the court, she said the court's ruling on this case will have implications for all state contracts.

But lawyers for the plaintiff say there must be some way to correct what they say is a wrong that's been done to the taxpayers of Missouri.

Attorney Robert Nienhaus says the court should compel Planned Parenthood to repay the state.

The CEO of Planned Parenthood in St Louis, Paula Gianino says Planned Parenthood complied with the stipulations before accepting family planning money from the state.

She says the organization did just what the state asked it to do: set up two separate organizations...one to provide family planning and one to provide abortion services.

Even though Planned Parenthood says it complied with the stipulations, their counsel has raised questions about whether or not it's even legal to place such stipulations in an appropriations bill.

Attorney Robert Nienhaus who represents the plaintiff in this case says lawmakers do have the authority to place conditions on how state money is spent.

There's no way to predict how soon the court will hand down its ruling.