SALT LAKE CITY — A judge is ordering the state of Utah not to stop funding its Planned Parenthood branch over advocacy for legal abortion or unproven allegations against the national organization.

The move comes after an appeals court decided a defunding order from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was likely an unconstitutional political move designed to punish the group because it provides abortions.

The prohibition signed Sunday by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City will be in effect as a court battle over the governor’s order plays out.

Herbert, a Republican, cut off cash for sexually transmitted disease and sex education programs amid a 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.

Several states have moved to strip Planned Parenthood of contracts and federal money, and the organization has sued in states like Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana. Most court decisions in other states have allowed money to keep flowing

Investigations have since cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.


This story has been corrected to say the prohibition was signed on Sunday by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City.