Republicans block family planning contracts for second time

CONCORD, NH (AP) – Republicans on Wednesday again denied funding for three New Hampshire health clinics over unfounded concerns that public money is paying for abortions.

The Executive Council’s 4-1 vote marked the second time the Equality Health Center, Lovering Health Center and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England have been denied funding under a new demanding state requirement that the state confirm the financial separation between family planning programs and abortion services. .

By the time of the first vote in September, audits were incomplete, but the four Republicans on the board still did not vote on Wednesday, despite audit reports confirming the funds were not mixed.

“We found that we weren’t even paying enough to fund their regular family planning. We do not subsidize abortion services, and all the documents support it, ”said Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette.

Councilor Janet Stevens said she was concerned that clinics have yet to correct issues identified in audits. But officials said they would meet the Dec. 31 deadline to do so and that none of the corrective measures had anything to do with how the money was spent.

Sandi Denoncour, executive director of the Lovering Health Center, said she was frustrated and angry with Stevens, who she said did not respond to repeated efforts to contact her ahead of the vote.

“We would have been happy to share with her what our corrective actions were and our plans to rectify them,” she said. “I don’t think this is a real request for information to influence this decision. I think it is a completely political blockage to distance oneself from the decision she has taken today.

The contracts, which were backed by Gov. Chris Sununu, reportedly extended funding clinics have relied on for years for cancer screenings, sexually transmitted disease testing and other routine health care services . Patricia Tilley, chief of the state division of public health services, said patients would likely end up forgoing treatment or seeking it in hospitals already overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kayla Montgomery, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, called the vote shameful.

“Once again, four executive advisers have chosen to dismiss public health experts and put their personal politics ahead of the health of our state,” she said. “The rejection of these essential funds undermines the delivery of essential health care for low-income and marginalized Granite Staters. “

Councilor Ted Gatsas objected on the grounds that state funding should not go to clinics where 14-year-old girls could get the morning after pill without parental consent. Shibinette noted that parental consent is not required for contraception.

“We hear no objection to a 14-year-old boy buying condoms,” she said.

Councilor Cinde Warmington, the only Democrat, agreed.

“This is once again an attack on women and the control of women,” she said.

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This story has been corrected to remove a reference to both physical and financial separation between family planning programs and abortion services. The law only requires financial separation.


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