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Executive Council rejects family planning contracts, N.H. health centers brace for loss of funding

A photo of people holding pink signs that read "I stand with Planned Parenthood."
Charlotte Cooper
WikiMedia Commons/CC 2.0
Planned Parenthood is one of three abortion providers in N.H. Funding to abortion providers for non-abortion services heads to the Executive Council Wednesday.

Update: In a 4-1 vote, the Executive Council has turned down the family planning contracts. We'll add to this post as we know more.

New Hampshire health centers that provide abortions are worried their funding will be cut for non-abortion services, like contraception and STD testing, by the Executive Council. In September, the Republican-led Council voted against contracts similar to the ones up for a vote this week.

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State health officials say relying on these family providers who also perform abortions Planned Parenthood, Lovering Health Center in Greenland and the Equality Health Center in Concord allow the state to provide affordable contraception, STD and cancer screening to low income clients across New Hampshire.

In a letter to the council, the state’s health commissioner called the family planning contracts “a safety net that improves birth outcomes, prevents unplanned pregnancies, and reduces health disparities, which could increase the cost of health care for New Hampshire citizens.”

Dalia Vidunas, the executive director of Equality Health Center, says the low-cost care the Concord center provides is in jeopardy. A decrease in funding will mean cuts to the center’s sliding scale model, which allows patients to pay what they can, rather than full price.

Free services like HIV and pregnancy testing and counseling for people with an unintended pregnancy, Vidunas says, will no longer be free. The cuts will have the largest impact on low-income patients who may not be able to afford rising costs.

Republican councilors cited concerns about tax dollars being used illegally to subsidize abortions when they voted down the earlier contracts.

They rejected assurances by the Attorney General that the providers were following the state law requiring publicly funded family planning clinics to financially segregate their operations from any abortion services.

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