Anti-abortion rights group hurries to raise money to add to the hundreds of Planned Parenthood centers that could see cuts
At last count, seven states have cut funding for reproductive services administered by Planned Parenthood, whose reputation has taken a beating from anti-abortion rights advocates. Either by passing laws (Indiana, Kansas, Texas) that prevent any abortion provider from receiving state or federal funding, by writing Planned Parenthood out of the state budget (Tennessee, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas again) or by executive order (New Hampshire), legislatures together have redirected millions of dollars away from about 160 centers total.
Though Indiana’s law was recently struck down by a federal judge for violating federal Medicaid rules and the others are beginning to face legal challenges, anti-abortion rights groups like Americans United for Life (AUL) are pushing every state in the country to eliminate family planning funds that go to Planned Parenthood. In an AUL-penned op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, the group’s leaders promised that “measures to defund the abortion industry will remain a top priority for states in 2011 and will re-emerge in 2012.”
In its effort to push this priority, Americans United for Life has emailed supporters several times a week throughout the past month to ask for money to cover a budget gap. On Wednesday, Yoest emailed supporters asking for an “emergency contribution” because, she said, the organization has until Thursday to raise $65,700; the initial budget goal for June was $116,000.
In the WSJ piece, Yoest and legal affairs vice president Denise M. Burke blamed Planned Parenthood for the Indiana’s potential loss in funding for reproductive services — because Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) challenged the state for pulling its family-planning funding. Due to the way Indiana’s government chose to cancel Medicaid contracts with PPIN (which the state’s Legislative Services Agency initially warned might not be legal), the federal government threatened to block all Medicaid funding to the state.
“Who here is really endangering women?” Yoest and Burke wrote. “Clearly, Planned Parenthood and the administration are willing to deny thousands of needy men, women and children health care in order to protect the bottom lines of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.”
Planned Parenthood’s argument looks a little different, of course, claiming that states are reducing access to affordable reproductive services for women who are on Medicaid or who have no health insurance based on ideological beliefs about abortion.
“I am extremely disappointed that the [Wisconsin] state legislature would wage a political attack against each and every one of the 73,000 patients Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin serves,” said Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin President Teri Huyck in a statement released last week after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a budget bill that eliminated state and federal funding for Planned Parenthood. “It is greatly disturbing that some politicians’ personal beliefs are trumping our shared responsibility to make sure women and men have access to preventive reproductive health care. The health care we provide saves lives and saves money for all Wisconsin taxpayers.”
To recap, here are the states that have moved to strip family planning funding from Planned Parenthood this legislative session:
- Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation on May 10, essentially banning all contracts between state agencies and Planned Parenthood and prohibiting grants for any entity that performs abortions or operates a facility where abortions are performed. This week, part of the law was overturned and Planned Parenthood of Indiana is currently allowed to serve Medicaid beneficiaries, though the state has since filed an appeal. Planned Parenthood has 28 clinics in the state, four of which that provide abortions.
- Kansas approved legislation redirecting more than $300,000 in family-planning funding away from Planned Parenthood to “full-service health clinics.” Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri operates three clinics in Kansas, only one of which provided abortions, until the state recently passed another abortion-related law requiring abortion clinics to obtain licenses and meet specific criteria. Kansas’ abortion-providing clinic in Overland Park was inspected last week but did not meet the new criteria.
- Tennessee passed a new budget on May 21 that prevents Planned Parenthood from receiving federal Title X family planning funding. Approximately $335,000 in funding is to be redirected to government-run health agencies, exclusively. As The Commercial Appeal pointed out following the bill passage, Tennessee law says that all Title X money must go to state and local health departments unless all the required services cannot be provided, at which time they can go to private agencies such as Planned Parenthood. The Appeal also reported that another amendment in the same budget appears to contradict the Section 78 amendment responsible for defunding Planned Parenthood: “Section 78 of this act shall not be construed to supersede applicable provisions of federal and state law.” In most recent news, Planned Parenthood’s Memphis location is continuing to deliver reproductive services on a monthly basis until the county health department can take over the services or find new providers. Planned Parenthood has three centers in Tennessee, all which offer abortion services.
- North Carolina’s legislature voted on June 15 to override Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto of its new budget (which takes effect July 1) that eliminates all state and federal funding to the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliate except for Medicaid funding. North Carolina has nine Planned Parenthood clinics, four of which offer medication and surgical abortion services.
- New Hampshire defunded Planned Parenthood by executive order, voiding a $1.8 million family-planning contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The Union Leader reported that New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas said he was unsure how retracting these funds from Planned Parenthood will affect the delivery of services to New Hampshire residents. New Hampshire has six Planned Parenthood-run clinics, three of which offer medication and surgical abortion services. Of those three, only two centers — in Manchester and West Lebanon — offer surgical abortions at only 12.6 weeks from the last date of the woman’s most recent menstrual cycle.
- Wisconsin Gov. Walker last weekend signed a new state budget that eliminated $1 million in federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood. There are 29 Planned Parenthood clinics in the Badger State. Of those, three clinics provide surgical and medical abortions. Two clinics, in West Allis and Madison, offer colposcopy services, a method of examining the cervix in the event of an abnormal Pap smear.
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to sign a recently passed bill that would convert Texas’ Medicaid program into a block grant, allowing it to defund abortion providers — in other words, Planned Parenthood. The new law would take away approximately $37 million from Planned Parenthood, which was already reduced from $111 million in the state’s 2012 budget, according to the New York Daily News. There are 84 Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas, of which 13 provide abortions.