New Hampshire House Votes to De-Fund Planned Parenthood

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 18, 2012   |   12:58PM   |   Concord, NH

After the Obama administration forced the state to fund Planned Parenthood, the New Hampshire legislature is taking steps to revoke taxpayer funding for the abortion business.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives passed HB 228 by an overwhelming margin of 207 to 147, prioritizing state-controlled family planning dollars away from abortion businesses such as Planned Parenthood. The funding is prioritized to public and private entities that provide comprehensive health care to women and do not perform abortions.

The bill’s language, inserted as an amendment by Rep. Warren Groen (R-Rochester), was developed by the Alliance Defense Fund and the Susan B. Anthony List and the bill containing the amendment now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

“The House-passed bill ensures that taxpayer funds are prioritized to entities dedicated to providing comprehensive health care to women, not abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B Anthony List. “This is a great victory in what has become a nationwide battle to stop taxpayer funding of abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.”

Michael Tierney, an Alliance Defense Fund-allied attorney in Manchester, New Hampshire who helped promote the language, added, “It is time to get New Hampshire taxpayers out of the abortion business. Planned Parenthood’s business model is centered on abortion, and New Hampshire taxpayers want no part in it.”

Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Mike Norton chimed in as well:   “Every innocent life deserves to be protected. Taxpayer dollars should go toward helping and caring for the most vulnerable Americans, not killing them. New Hampshire taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions.”

Last June, the New Hampshire Executive Council voted to cancel a $1.8 million dollar contract with Planned Parenthood, citing that taxpayers would be subsidizing the abortion business. After that decision, the Obama Administration awarded a non-competitive $1 million contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, bypassing the state’s earlier decision to reject taxpayer funding of the abortion giant.

Later last year, the New Hampshire Executive Council filed a formal protest with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Government Accountability Office complaining about the grant.

Three members of the Council, as represented by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, requested that HHS declare the grant void. In their complaint, they say “the Grant by HHS was improper, irregular, unnecessary, in contravention of the authority of the Executive Council and its duly elected members, and in disregard for the sovereignty of the State of New Hampshire.”

The letter also criticizes the Obama administration for a lack of transparency, saying the HHS has treated its requests for more information about the grant Obama officials forced New Hampshire to make with Planned Parenthood were treated as formal Freedom of Information requests that take some time to process. As a result, New Hampshire officials say they have not been able to get information they need to respond.

“In stark contrast to HHS’ unannounced process leading up to [the award],” the letter reads, “all aspects of the Executive Council’s decision were and are matters of public record and were and are well-known to HHS.”

After the Obama decision, Jennifer Frizzell, a senior policy advisor for Planned Parenthood, told the paper that the abortion business will wind up with 16 months of the 18 month grant it would have received has the Executive Council renewed the contract. Planned Parenthood will receive the grant in monthly disbursements from the Obama administration.

Councilor David Wheeler, one of the three members of the council, called the decision by the Obama administration one of “arrogance” because the will of New Hampshire officials was not followed.

“Even though the state of New Hampshire turned down Planned Parenthood as a contractor, the Obama administration says you’re going to take it anyway, whether you like it or not,” Wheeler told the Monitor.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a pro-abortion Democrat, announced the grant through her office after writing to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging her to force the state to fund the abortion business. A spokesman for Gov. John Lynch, also a pro-abortion Democrat, praised the decision, saying, “These are important health services for women, and it’s a good thing they’re available again here in New Hampshire.”

Before the decision, Wheeler was concerned New Hampshire Health Commissioner Nick Toumpas was conspiring with the Obama administration to go over the heads of the council to restore the funding.

The decision comes after the Obama administration sent the state a strongly-worded letter to complain. The Health and Human Services Department is claiming the state broke federal rules in denying the Planned Parenthood contract and it alleges the state must provide family planning services to low-income women and that de-funding Planned Parenthood puts it at risk of losing federal funding by supposedly denying women access to family planning — even though other alternatives are available from other agencies.

Commenting on the rejection of the contract, Kevin Smith, the director of the pro-life group Cornerstone Action, said he applauds “a majority of the Executive Council for scrutinizing every penny of tax-payer dollars by rejecting the contract for Planned Parenthood.”

“The taxpayers have made it very clear that they do not want one cent going towards the funding of abortions, either directly or indirectly,” Smith said. “Not to mention, it is obscene how much of PPNNE’s current revenue of $18 million is earmarked for things like overhead costs, salaries, marketing, and public policy advocacy. New Hampshire women deserve better than a “non-profit” that would deny women health services because they value administrative costs and political power above patient care.”

Smith indicated that the most recent annual report for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England shows that, of its $18 million dollars in revenue, $3,126,841 (or 16.9%) was spent on general and administrative costs, $714,877 (or 3.9%) was spent on policy advocacy spending or lobbying, $597,000 (or 3.2%) was spent on marketing and communications and $568,397 (or 3.1%) was spent on fundraising.

The Obama administration is also forcing other states to fund the abortion business, including in Texas.

After Indiana’s decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood, the top Medicaid official in the Obama administration denied Indiana’s use of its new state law that would cut off anywhere from $2 million to $3 million the Planned Parenthood abortion business receives in federal funds via the Indiana government through Medicaid. The Obama administration told the state it can’t implement the new law, with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick denying a request to deny funds saying the federal Medicaid law stipulates that states can’t exclude providers based on the services they provide.

Indiana refused to comply and is standing its ground against a lawsuit Planned Parenthood filed and is appealing the Obama administration’s ruling that it can’t determine who receives the Medicaid tax dollars the state is given to dole out. But Marcus Barlow, a spokesman for Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration, told National Journal, “The way the law was written, it went into effect the moment the governor signed it. We were just advised by our lawyers that we should continue to enforce Indiana law.”

Dannenfelser said the SBA List has long supported efforts in the “Live Free or Die” state to defund abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. To date, SBA List activists in New Hampshire have sent more than 94,000 messages to their elected representatives on the issue.

Including New Hampshire, nine states have successfully defunded Planned Parenthood of over $61.7 million.

In other states, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill that could cut off as much as $30-40 million in taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Indiana approved a law de-funding Planned Parenthood, Montana Planned Parenthood is also grappling with funding cuts and one county in Tennessee de-funded Planned Parenthood.

North Carolina may see the closing of a Planned Parenthood center following de-funding and Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin is making cuts after the abortion business lost $1 million in taxpayer funding there. Ohio lawmakers also filed a new bill to shift funding from Planned Parenthood to health departments.