Over the dissent of two justices, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an anti-abortion group’s attempt to get more information about a $1 million federal contract awarded to Planned Parenthood for family planning and related health services.
The Department of Health and Human Services awarded the contract to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in 2011 to provide family planning services for a large portion of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Right to Life, which had helped to block a similar grant at the state level, then sought to obtain access to a large number of documents in the grant application under the Freedom of Information Act. HHS turned over about 2,500 pages of documents, but withheld some, saying they were exempt from the open records law.
The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals based in Boston subsequently upheld that action. It ruled unanimously that the withheld information is confidential and privileged commercial information and that, if disclosed, could provide valuable information to Planned Parenthood’s competitors in other areas of the country.
Two justices, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, voted to hear the case. Writing for the two, Thomas said the lower court decision “perpetuates an unsupported interpretation” of the Freedom of Information Act.
The national group has been under fire recently after a series of undercover videos from a conservative anti-abortion group allegedly showed an employee discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has said the videos have been selectively edited, but Republicans have pressed for the group to be stripped of any government funding in the wake of the controversy.