Feds back Planned Parenthood in defunding case

Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks at the state Republican Party fundraiser in Indianapolis, May 12, 2011.
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

INDIANAPOLIS - The U.S. Justice Department is siding with Planned Parenthood of Indiana in its lawsuit trying to block a new Indiana law that takes away much of its public funding.

The Justice Department filed a brief after hours Thursday saying federal interests are at stake and that U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt should grant Planned Parenthood's request for an injunction blocking the law signed May 10 by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

It's unclear how the last-minute filing affects the timing of Pratt's ruling. She has said she intends to rule by July 1. Planned Parenthood attorney Ken Falk told The Associated Press the brief caught him by surprise.

An email message was sent to Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher requesting comment. He represents the state.

North Carolina votes to defund Planned Parenthood
HHS rejects Indiana Planned Parenthood defunding

Indiana became the first state this year to cut off all government funds to Planned Parenthood, fulfilling conservatives' goal of financially weakening organizations that provide abortions. Other conservative states have considered such action in recent years but backed away under the threat of loss of all federal money for their Medicaid programs.

The North Carolina state legislature passed legislation on Wednesday that will strip Planned Parenthood of its funding in the state, making the Tar Heel state the third in the nation to defund the non-profit family planning and health care organization.