CONCORD -- Just days after Gov. Chris Sununu signed the first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history, some members of the Executive Council threatened to withhold critical funding for family planning services, even as we recover from a global pandemic, to push a politically motivated false narrative.
The budget signed into law by Gov. Sununu requires New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to complete audits of all New Hampshire Family Planning providers to confirm that state family planning funds aren’t used for abortion care. State and federal funds are already prohibited from going toward abortion care.
These new audit requirements are politically motivated, overreaching, and unnecessary. Providers already submit financial information (see previous executive council contracts, for example, item #21a, 2017) for the council to review, as directed by the RFP process. These audits would be applicable to all vendors in the NH Family Planning Program, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
Funding for family planning providers expired Wednesday, but state officials said the audits would likely not be completed until the end of the year. If the council demands that audits are completed prior to voting on contracts, funding for cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and birth control could be in limbo for months. DHHS confirmed (1:27:30) that there would be a delay. More than 15,000 lower income or uninsured Granite State patients rely on family planning funding to access safety net care.
On Wednesday, Councilor David Wheeler made it clear that he would prefer a disruption to care, rather than reviewing and voting on family planning contracts, even going as far as instructing the Attorney General (1:25:42) to look into penalties for providers who refuse to participate.
Statement from Kayla Montgomery, VP of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England:
“It’s clear that some members of Governor Sununu’s Executive Council are more interested in pushing a politically motivated, false narrative than doing the job they were elected to do. In seeking to defund Planned Parenthood through these unnecessary audit requirements, these councilors have shown they are willing to harm low-income Granite Staters, risking access to cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and other critical safety net care for more than 15,000 patients. Meanwhile, Governor Sununu has stood by in silence, hoping Granite Staters will forget that his budget signature authorized this political attack.”
In addition to mandating financial audits of all family planning providers, the budget signed into law by Governor Sununu includes the first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history, criminalizes doctors, mandates ultrasounds at all stages of pregnancy, and drastically underfunds family planning services.
The New Hampshire Family Planning Program has had bipartisan support for decades. As recently as 2019 (the last time contracts came before the New Hampshire Executive Council), all contracts, including PPNNE’s, were approved by a bipartisan majority. Current councilors David Wheeler, Joe Kenney, and Ted Gatsas have all previously voted to reject contracts, as did then-Councilor Chris Sununu in 2015.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is the largest provider of reproductive and sexual health care for women, men and young people across the State of New Hampshire. We serve New Hampshire residents through 6 health centers in Claremont, Derry, Exeter, Keene, Manchester and White River Junction, VT. In 2020, we saw nearly 11,000 patients at these sites.
Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund (PPNHAF) is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.