Union Leader: Grant to bypass vote on Planned Parenthood

This article first appeared online at The Union Leader on September 13, 2011.

Grant to bypass vote on Planned Parenthood

The federal government on Tuesday announced a $1.02 million grant to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, bypassing a June decision by the New Hampshire Executive Council to write Planned Parenthood out of the family-planning business in New Hampshire.

The grant allows the three-state organization to continue offering federally funded family planning services in six New Hampshire communities — Manchester, Claremont, Derry, Exeter, Keene and West Lebanon.

Such services include birth control and cancer screenings. Abortions, including medication-induced abortions, were never an issue because Title X money does not fund abortions, said Jennifer Frizzell, a senior advisor to Planned Parenthood Northern New England.

Emergency birth control medication, which prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb, is a covered service.

The effective date of the $1.02 million grant is Sept. 1, and it runs until the end of 2012.

In June, the Executive Council voted 3-2 to reject an up to $1.8 million Planned Parenthood grant. Most of the funds were federal monies, to be administered by the state.

The Council did approve grants to other agencies that provide family planning in other areas of the state.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., eventually urged federal health officials to contract directly with Planned Parenthood, effectively cutting out the middleman.

That may continue. In announcing its award, the Office of Population Affairs said it would accept Title X grant applications for 2013 funding from private nonprofit agencies, as well as the state.

“If the state of New Hampshire can’t meet the requirement (for statewide administration), it might find some healthy competition, and that might be ourselves,” Frizzell said.

Shaheen on Tuesday praised the grant to Planned Parenthood. She said the organization provides vital care such as screenings for breast and cervical cancer.

“In some parts of New Hampshire, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of these preventive services for low-income women,” Shaheen said.

But U.S Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said “New Hampshire’s Executive Council has spoken on this matter, and the (Obama) administration should respect the state’s right to make this decision.”

Such criticism was echoed by the Susan B. Anthony List, a national anti-abortion organization.

“It is well within the purview of the New Hampshire state government to decide not to continue to subsidize America’s abortion giant with taxpayer dollars,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

A Shaheen spokesman said the money in question was federal dollars that the state lost when it couldn’t provide family planning statewide.

“In that case, the federal government has a responsibility to see that all women in the state have access to these services,” said Faryl Ury.

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