MANCHESTER, NH – A contract for $638,000 in state funding for Planned Parenthood was voted down by the Executive Council 3-2 on Wednesday.
The agenda item, which was divided into two requests for funding by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England for two of its New Hampshire offices, in Claremont and Manchester, were the only requests that failed under agenda item 18, which granted approval for funding to three other organizations – $179,800 for Concord Feminist Health Center; $134,200 for the Joan G. Lovering Health Center; and $117,100 for the Weeks Medical Center.
The funding request included $385,000 for the Manchester Planned Parenthood office to cover family planning, clinical services, health and sexual education programs, cancer and pregnancy screening and STD screening and treatment.
An attempt by Manchester Ink Link to reach the New England office of Planned Parenthood for comment Wednesday was unsuccessful. However, the organization has said prior to the vote that the reduced funding would mean a reduction of vital services to low-income and uninsured women.
The vote was divided along party lines, with Republican councilors Joseph Kenney from District 1, Christopher Sununu from District 3 and David Wheeler from District 5 voting against the funding. Democrats Colin van Ostern, from District 2, and Christopher Pappas, from District 4 voted in favor of the funding.
The Councilors voting down the measure cited recent national controversy over handling of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood. According to Politifact, New Hampshire is among those states that do not have a tissue donation program.
Sununu, who cast the deciding vote, issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
“Today I cast the deciding vote on the Executive Council to oppose taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire. In the past, I supported funding for Planned Parenthood as a provider of reproductive health services in my district. However, investigations into potential criminal activity on both a federal and multi-state level have convinced me to withdraw that support.
“Serious ethical and legal questions have been raised nationally about Planned Parenthood. New Hampshire would not even be considering approving such a contract if it were not for the political influence that Planned Parenthood has. There is precedent for rejecting state contracts when the applicant has been under investigation and surrounded by controversy, and given the sensitivity and seriousness of this issue, Planned Parenthood should be held to a similar standard of scrutiny.
“The Executive Council has asked Governor Hassan and her Attorney General Joseph Foster to formally investigate the matter to ensure no illegal activity has occurred. Yesterday the Governor refused that request once again confirming her need to place politics ahead of integrity and accountability in New Hampshire.
“Today, I again called on Governor Hassan to find alternatives to Planned Parenthood in parts of our state where there currently are none. New Hampshire should provide alternatives for women so they can make the best choice for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the Governor rejected my request to promote choice for women and their health care needs. I will continue working with the Commissioner of Health and Human Services to provide leadership and identify alternative health care providers.
Gov. Maggie Hassan released the following statement Wednesday:
“Planned Parenthood provides critical primary and preventive health care services to thousands of New Hampshire women, including cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing. Access to these services is essential to the economic security and vitality of our families, and I am incredibly disappointed in the outcome of today’s vote.
“Two years ago, we came together across party lines to restore funding for Planned Parenthood and support the critical health care services that their health centers provide to women, men and families across the state. It is clear that today’s vote is the result of an ideological and political attack against Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions, as there have been no allegations or evidence that Planned Parenthood of Northern New England has done anything but follow New Hampshire law and help thousands of women and families access health care.
“The council’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood will hurt the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters. Moving forward, I will continue to fight to ensure that women and families have access to the important health services that are essential to the economic security and vitality of our families.”
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