We’ve heard a good deal of applause in the wake of the passing of the state budget and taxpayer replacement of “lost” Title X funds. Examples are recent columns by Dunlap, Leach, and Vidunas in the Concord Monitor and Senator Rosenwald in the Union Leader.
However, on closer scrutiny, beyond the lofty language of “essential reproductive healthcare,” “moral document,” and “values,” they conveniently bury misleading and incorrect information about family planning funds and the state budget. Before accepting such rhetoric at face value, Cornerstone urges NH voters to take a closer look.
What Planned Parenthood and their supporters call a “cut off” of family planning funds by the federal government is simply a widely-propagated myth.
Here’s why. The federal government’s recently-enacted Protect Life Rule (PLR) regarding the use of Title X family planning funds did not take away any money from New Hampshire Title X providers. In fact, the new rule had no impact at all on the number of Title X dollars available. What it did do was to put safeguards in place to keep those dollars from going to fund abortions. In response to that effort, rather than comply, several New Hampshire abortion providers and their allies walked away from the Title X program entirely. Even though they knew about this rule more than a year before its final implementation, these abortion providers made no effort to separate abortion from the health care work they claim is so important. Clearly abortion, not the health care needs of their Title X patients, was their first priority. Separating health care would mean it could no longer act as an indirect funding source or PR “shield” to protect the business of abortion.
Legislative allies of abortion providers in their infinite wisdom decided that, rather than attempt to comply with the spirit and intent of the rule, state general funds ought to be used to replace the federal dollars that those providers voluntarily surrendered with no change in their business model. This translated into a large increase in the “family planning” line of the state budget. Surviving the negotiations on a compromise budget, those costs now shift to lie directly on the shoulders of NH taxpayers. Not only is this unnecessary, it actively encourages abortion providers to maintain their business model of putting abortion ahead of birth control, STI treatment, and cancer screenings on their list of essential services.
If you’re still unsure of where these funds will actually be used, consider this. Until it turned its back on Title X, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) was the state’s largest family planning contractor. As such, it is first in line to benefit the most from the new budget’s unnecessary appropriation. With a campaign finance complaint still pending action by the state attorney general’s office after a year, Planned Parenthood can continue to freely spend taxpayer monies far beyond their intended scope. By giving money to PPNNE to make up for an imaginary “loss” of funds for clinical services, the Governor and legislature are actually funding a 501(c)(3) organization prohibited from political activity that in 2018 transferred over a million dollars to c4 organizations for “grassroots” lobbying and electioneering as well as spending $1.3 million on fundraising (according to PPNNE’s most recent financial statements).
The disparity between funds actually raised for this purpose and what Planned Parenthood spends is eyebrow-raising, not to mention the healthy $12 million PPNNE has in its savings. Why were these facts never mentioned when PPNNE was painting a dire financial picture without Title X?
The taxpayers are the losers here. Part of the original intent of the more than half-century-old Title X program was to keep abortion and family planning absolutely separate. This was a clear acknowledgment that abortion is not health care. It further recognized that taxpayers should not be expected to subsidize, even indirectly, the operations of an abortion provider. New Hampshire has done just the opposite, allowing Planned Parenthood’s fuzzy business model and robust political activism to continue at taxpayer expense.
It’s time to look past the prevailing business model of state family planning providers who want to get state funds while continuing to do abortions and spend money on areas they have no business funding at the taxpayer’s expense. It’s time to listen to the New Hampshire neighbors who want to provide for authentic health care without being forced to violate their own consciences by subsidizing abortion providers. Looking to the future, it’s time to affirm that abortion is not health care. It’s time for the truth and for an honest and accurate review of the state contractors who chose to walk away from Title X, the real reasons behind their move, and where our money really goes.
Shannon McGinley is the Cornerstone Action Executive Director