Nebraska Bill Cutting Planned Parenthood Funds Moves Ahead

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 8, 2012   |   12:43PM   |   Lincoln, NE

The Nebraska state legislature on Tuesday that would strike state taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business moved ahead yesterday following a national debate over the Komen breast cancer charity potentially cutting funding.

The legislation that would increase the number of women eligible for Medicaid for family planning services was the subject of debate as to whether those funds should go to Planned Parenthood.

The Lincoln Journal Star indicates Senators voted 28-5 to send the bill, LB 540, to second reading, and the newspaper says the measure “would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to apply for a Medicaid waiver or an amendment to an existing waiver to provide medical assistance for family planning services for residents who earn 185 percent or less of the federal poverty level.”

However, before voting on the final bill, lawmakers adopted an amendment on a 25-8 vote that would ensure none of the family planning money can to any organization that performs or promotes abortions. Lincoln Sen. Tony Fulton proposed the amendment and said he doesn’t believe family planning programs reduce the number of abortions — citing research from the Guttmacher Institute showing 54 percent of women were using birth control or contraception at the time of their abortion.

“I want to draw a bright line between abortion and these other services,” Fulton said.

But Lincoln Sen. Ken Haar worried the amendment would put Nebraska in jeopardy of losing Medicaid funds from the federal government, as the Obama administration has threatened states like Indiana, Texas and New Hampshire that have also cut off Planned Parenthood funds.

Jill June, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, told the newspaper her organization supported the bill but opposed the amendment.

According to the state health department’s figures from last July, Nebraska abortions were down 10 percent during the first six months of 2011, according to a preliminary report from the state health department, and it appears a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy may be the cause.

Statistics from the Nebraska Health & Human Services Department showed a ten percent drop in abortions from January through June compared to the number of abortions done during the same time period in 2010. The totals shows 1,153 abortions so far this year, a drop from the 1,288 abortions done during the first six months of the year prior.