By HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press
CONCORD, NH (AP) — Republicans on Wednesday again denied funding for three New Hampshire health clinics over unsubstantiated concerns that public money pays for abortions.
The Executive Council’s 4-1 vote marked the second time the Equality Health Center, Lovering Health Center and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England have been denied funding under a new state requirement that the state confirms the financial separation between family planning programs and abortion services. .
At the time of the first vote in September, audits were incomplete, but all four Republicans on the board still voted no on Wednesday, despite audit reports confirming the funds were not mixed.
“We found that we don’t even pay enough to fund their regular family planning. We do not subsidize abortion services, and all the documentation confirms this,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette.
Councilor Janet Stevens expressed concern that the clinics have not yet corrected the problems noted during the audits. But officials said they would meet the Dec. 31 deadline to do so, and none of the corrective actions had anything to do with how the money was spent.
Sandi Denoncour, executive director of the Lovering Health Center, said she was frustrated and angry with Stevens, who she said did not respond to repeated efforts to contact her ahead of the vote.
“We would have been happy to share with her what our corrective actions were and our plans to rectify them,” she said. “I don’t believe this is a genuine request for information to influence this decision. I think it’s a completely political block to distance herself from the decision she made today.”
The contracts, which were backed by Gov. Chris Sununu, would have extended funding the clinics had relied on for years for cancer screenings, sexually transmitted disease tests and other routine healthcare services. Patricia Tilley, chief of the state’s public health services division, said patients will likely end up forgoing treatment or seeking it at hospitals already overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kayla Montgomery, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, called the vote shameful.
“Once again, four executive advisers have chosen to dismiss public health experts and put their personal politics ahead of the health of our state,” she said. “The rejection of these critical funds harms the delivery of essential health care for low-income and marginalized Granite Staters.”
Councilor Ted Gatsas objected on the grounds that state funding should not go to clinics where 14-year-old girls could get the morning after pill without parental consent. Shibinette noted that parental consent is not required for contraception.
“We have no objection to a 14-year-old boy buying condoms,” she said.
Councilwoman Cinde Warmington, the only Democrat, agreed.
“This is again an attack on women and control of women,” she said.
This story has been corrected to remove a reference to the physical and financial separation between family planning programs and abortion services. The law only requires financial separation.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.