NC House attempts to ban Planned Parenthood from the state budget again
The NC General Assembly hasn’t even been in session for two weeks yet but it didn’t take long for extremist legislators to revisit the same old tactics they adopted last year in a desperate, politically-motivated attack on Planned Parenthood.
Last year, anti-women’s health legislators set about defunding Planned Parenthood by specifically banning (not cutting!) us by name in the state budget. When the federal courts called foul and ordered a temporary injunction to get funds flowing back into Planned Parenthood’s preventative health care services these legislators were stuck figuring out how to achieve their goal in a different way.
Speaker of the House Thom Tillis admitted this last summer when he stated that the legislature would consider rewriting the special provision to “avoid further litigation” but to maintain the desired impact of banning Planned Parenthood from serving the low-income women who turn to us for preventative health care through the Title X family planning program each year.
Last Thursday we saw exactly how they plan to go about it. House budget writers rolled out their new budget before the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee. Budget negotiations up to this point had taken place secretly among Republican lawmakers behind closed doors so this was the first glimpse at what was in store for Planned Parenthood allies and for the general public.
A brand new special provision in the state budget reads:
“Of the funds appropriated in this act to the Department of Health and Human Services for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, none shall be allocated to renewing, extending, or entering into new contracts for the provision of family planning services and pregnancy prevention activities with providers other than local health departments. Upon the expiration of any contracts in effect during the 2011-2012 fiscal year between the Division of Public Health and private providers of family planning services and pregnancy prevention activities, the Department shall reallocate three hundred forty-three thousand dollars ($343,000) of these contract funds to local health departments. Local health departments receiving funds under this section shall not contract with outside vendors for the provision of family planning services or pregnancy prevention activities. These services shall be provided directly by local health department recipients.”
This provision represents a direct and intentional attack on Planned Parenthood. When specifically asked by Representative Verla Insko (D-Orange) if there would be any other agencies impacted by this provision other than Planned Parenthood legislative staff confirmed that there were not.
The most important point here is that the majority in the NC Legislature is once again demonstrating their complete disregard for low-income women in the interest of moving their political agenda forward. The real-life effect of this provision is that these women will be denied the right to decide on their trusted family planning provider while the state dictates that they must seek care at their local health department.
While county health departments provide many important services, the sad fact of the matter is that many are simply over-capacity as it is. Far more over-capacity than $343,000 could possibly address across the entire state. Many county health departments have long waits for family planning appointments. For example, in Wake County, there are no new appointments available until August. If you need an appointment sooner you are advised to call (who else?!) Planned Parenthood. This same patient could, in most circumstances, be seen at Planned Parenthood on the same day and certainly within the same week.
The moral of the 2011 legislative session was that these legislators have no shame when it comes to playing politics with women’s health. We see now that nothing has changed in 2012. They don’t care that this measure won’t save the state a single dime as they pursue their single-minded pursuit of restricting women’s access to health care. But we’re not backing down. You can take action right now to let the NC House know that you Stand with Planned Parenthood and stay tuned for more updates! Your support is more important than ever!
BlueNC is dedicated to making North Carolina a more progressive and prosperous state. If your intention is to disrupt this effort, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.