It's getting hard to keep up with the attacks on reproductive health care around the US, so forgive us for being a little tardy on the news that New Hampshire has also cut support for Planned Parenthood, joining Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas in efforts to defund the organization.
The state's executive council—an elected five-person panel that advises the governor—decided to slash the $1.8 million in funding to Planned Parenthood at the end of June. Thanks to a rather unique government set-up, the panel gets to approve all grants over $10,000. This essentially means they get a say over the state's governor, which is currently Democrat John Lynch. The panel, which is currently made up of all Republican members, voted 3-2 to block funding to Planned Parenthood. Republicans also hold the majority in the state legislature, but a legislative effort to block funding to the group failed. So the council took it up. Their reasoning? It's a doozy:
"I am opposed to abortion," said Raymond Wieczorek, a council member who voted against the contract. "I am opposed to providing condoms to someone. If you want to have a party, have a party but don't ask me to pay for it."
Let’s start with the fact that the two halves of that quote don't even gibe. Because of preexisting federal law, no public funds are used for abortions; Planned Parenthood is only allowed to use federal funds for all the other services it provides. But the idea that Planned Parenthood otherwise exists only to provide condoms, or to that condoms only serve to let women "party," or that we should punish women who have sex in the first place is, well, wrong at best and offensive at worst.
Since 20 percent the budget for Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire comes from these funds, the group is already having to reduce its services. And by "services," I don't mean a party bus with a bucket of condoms by the keg. Last I checked, pap smears weren't all that fun. As the Huffington Post reports:
"We can't even provide patients with antibiotics for urinary tract infections or STDs anymore," said Jennifer Frizzell, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. She said Planned Parenthood has had to turn away 20 to 30 patients a day who are showing up to refill their prescriptions.
"We have to send them away with a prescription knowing that without insurance, they have to pay the full cost of that at a local pharmacy, and many patients have told us they're not gonna have the money in their budget to afford to fill those prescriptions."
Like every other effort to defund Planned Parenthood around the country, it's low-income women and those who lack health insurance who will suffer most from the cuts in New Hampshire.