News and analysis
May 26, 2011

After Ind., More States Seek to Pull Money From Planned Parenthood

On the heels of Indiana cutting state support of Planned Parenthood clinics, lawmakers in seven other states are considering similar measures.

This spring lawmakers introduced bills to eliminate money for Planned Parenthood in Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin.

In Tennessee, lawmakers voted Saturday to bar the distribution of federal family-planning money to Planned Parenthood clinics. The money, which the state distributes according to federal rules, had been given to Planned Parenthood clinics. But the new measure bars the $1.1-million from going to Planned Parenthood and instead offers it to government-run clinics to care for low-income patients.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to sign the bill. But on Wednesday, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that language contained elsewhere in the legislation could mean that it is impossible to enforce the ban on Planned Parenthood getting aid.

A Matter of Timing

Most of the measures states are considering would prevent clinics from getting federal dollars sent to states for contraceptives, cancer screenings, and checkups for Medicaid recipients, said Roger Evans, senior director of public policy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in New York.

Money that states get from the federal government for family-planning services cannot be used to finance abortions. Nonetheless, abortion opponents have decided to take aim at government support for Planned Parenthood’s health-care clinics because some of them terminate pregnancies.

Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, in Washington, said no organized effort was under way among abortion opponents and state lawmakers to strip money from Planned Parenthood clinics. Rather, the efforts succeeded because of timing, she said.

“Pro-lifers were very successful electing a lot of pro-life legislators,” said Ms. Tobias.

State Activity

State lawmakers have enacted 64 abortion restrictions this year, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group in New York that supports legalized abortion. The next highest total was in 2005, when 34 restrictions were passed.

“All of this is targeted at keeping Planned Parenthood out of the money,” said Elizabeth Nash, a public-policy associate for the Guttmacher Institute.

Here’s a rundown of laws and amendments percolating elsewhere:

Indiana: With the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics standing to lose $1.4-million in federal aid distributed by the state, Planned Parenthood Indiana has sought a permanent injunction in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. Because of the cut, the local clinics are not taking new Medicaid patients beyond the 9,300 already treated there, said Kate Shepherd, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Indiana.

Kansas: In a state budget amendment, Kansas lawmakers steered money from the federal government for family planning to government clinics. Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, is expected to sign the measure.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri is planning a response. “We’re examining everything from the possibility of litigation to restructuring our business model,” said Sarah Gillooly, a spokeswoman for the group.

North Carolina: The Republican-led House has passed a state budget that includes a sentence barring the state from contracting with or providing money to Planned Parenthood. The restriction would strip more than $430,000 from nine health centers and is expected to find support in the Republican-majority Senate, said Jessica Bearden Laurenz, director of public policy at Planned Parenthood Health Systems in Raleigh.

Texas: Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas could lose $20-million statewide through cuts being proposed by some lawmakers. The money enables the charity to care for 122,000 women at health centers, offering services such as cancer screenings. The centers do not provide abortions, said Sarah Wheat, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region, in Austin. “We have never faced such deep cuts, and the number of people affected is unprecedented.”

The state is considering using money saved by cutting Planned Parenthood to aid people with disabilities and troubled youths, said Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life, which opposes abortion.

Wisconsin: Some lawmakers working on the state budget have tried to ensure that Planned Parenthood is barred from receiving money through programs that support women’s health because the nonprofit provides abortions, said Amanda Harrington, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee. An amendment to the proposed state budget would cut $1-million from nine health centers that see 12,000 patients.

“We don’t expect to see any significant changes to this,” Ms. Harrington said. “We are operating under the assumption this is the final budget for women’s health.”

Holly Hall contributed to this article.