Family planning

Executive Board Rejects Family Planning Contracts, NH Health Centers Brace for Loss of Funding

Update: In a 4 to 1 vote, the Executive Council rejected the family planning contracts. We’ll add to this post as we learn more.

New Hampshire health centers that offer abortions fear their funding may be cut for non-abortion services, such as contraception and STD testing, by the Executive Council. In September, the Republican-led Council voted against contracts similar to those due to be voted on this week.

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

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

Dalia Vidunas, executive director of the Equality Health Center, says the low-cost care provided by the Concord center is at risk. 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 tests and counseling for people with unwanted pregnancies, Vidunas says, will no longer be free. The cuts will have the biggest impact on low-income patients who may not be able to afford the rising costs.

Republican advisers raised concerns about the illegal use of taxpayers’ money to subsidize abortions when they rejected previous contracts.

They rejected assurances from the attorney general that providers were following state law requiring state-funded family planning clinics to financially separate their operations from any abortion service.