States Step Up Funds for P. Parenthood 02/21 06:13
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Severalstates have begun picking up the tab for
family planning services at clinics run by Planned Parenthood, which last year
quit a $260 million federal funding program over a Trump administration rule
prohibiting clinics from referring women for abortions.
States including New Jersey, Massachusetts and Hawaii already are providing
new funding, and Democratic governors in Connecticut and Pennsylvania have
proposed carving out money in state budgets to counter the effects of the
national provider's fallout with the Republican presidential administration.
The proposals have stirred political debates over abortion at the state
level, with some opponents claiming it's a government endorsement of abortion
and an inappropriate use of taxpayer money.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont earmarked $1.2 million for Planned Parenthood in
his new budget proposal. The executive director of the Connecticut Catholic
Conference, Christopher Healy, criticized it as a purely political act.
"Where is the pressing need here to do this?" Healy said, arguing Planned
Parenthood does not need taxpayer money. "They have the ability to raise
Lamont said he wants to help cover an expected shortfall for Planned
Parenthood to ensure women in Connecticut have access to all the health
services they need. A spokesman for Lamont said the administration doesn't want
the abortion debate to stymie access to things like contraception and cervical
"Look, this is the law of the land. Here in a state like this, we believe
that abortion rights are right, and we believe they ought to be affordable for
folks who otherwise might not have that availability," Lamont said. "So I think
it's the right thing to do."
Nationwide, about 4 million women across the U.S., many low-income and
uninsured, were receiving services last year under the Title X federal program,
including STD testing, various screenings, education and wellness exams.
Planned Parenthood and some other providers decided to withdraw from the
program rather than comply with what Planned Parenthood calls the Trump
administration's "gag order," which bars clinics that participate in Title X
from referring women for abortions. The move caused a money crunch for some
Since then, some of the rejected federal funds have been replenished by
state or local funds in Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Vermont, Oregon,
Washington, Massachusetts, California and New York. Hawaii's current fiscal
year budget sets aside $750,000 to partly cover a $2 million loss in Title X
In Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation
authorizing up to $8 million. In California, the Santa Clara County Board of
Supervisors last year voted to cover a $482,000 expected shortfall for six
Planned Parenthood clinics serving 36,274 patients. And Pennsylvania's
Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, has included a $3 million line item in his
proposed 2020-21 budget to also help offset the funding loss for Planned
In Oregon, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the Trump
administration's rule, a spokesman for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon
said the agency has been "working closely with state officials to create
critical backstops and protect access to care for all Oregonians who need it,
regardless of federal action on Title X," and commended Gov. Kate Brown, a
Democrat, for prioritizing funding for reproductive health services.
Abortion opponents have accused governors of providing the money to gain
favor with an organization that often supports Democrats at election time.
In New Jersey, where Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy last month signed
legislation that set aside $9.5 million in state money for family planning at
Planned Parenthood, New Jersey Right to Life called it a disgraceful money
"The taxpayers of NJ should not be forced to fund abortion --- and make no
mistake --- that is what this bill will do," Marie Tasy, the group's executive
director, said in a written statement.
Title X regulations prohibit funds from being used for abortions, with some
narrow exceptions, and the money Lamont has proposed would fund Title X
services and not on abortions, according to Connecticut's Department of Public
Abortion opponents in Connecticut have argued for years that state funds
should not be used for abortions or abortion referrals. The state's health
insurance program paid for 6,995 abortions in 2018. A Department of Social
Services spokesman said Connecticut is under a court order to pay for any
abortion for a Medicaid-covered woman that she and her doctor have determined
to be necessary.
The state money budgeted by Lamont would not go toward abortions, as it
would fund only Title X services, according to state health officials. But
opponents say that regardless of where it goes, the money for Planned
Parenthood makes it appear the state is outwardly advocating for abortion.
"I'm disturbed by it, that it's now state policy to outwardly advocate it
no, matter what," said Chris O'Brien, executive director of Connecticut Right
It's unclear how long the help from states will continue.
Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy
at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said it's "encouraging" that
governors and state legislators are trying to fill the gap, but said the
state-by-state efforts cannot replace the nearly 50-year-old Title X program.
"While we applaud leaders in the states for taking these temporary but
critical steps, we must continue fighting for a nationwide solution," Ayers
said. "Only Congress has the power to permanently stop this harmful rule, and
people across the country are continuing to call on them to do so."