CONCORD - Today, New Hampshire’s Executive Council again voted 4-1 against contracts with three family planning providers that also provide abortion care - Equality Health Center, Lovering Health Center, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. This action marks the fourth vote since September to defund these organizations. The agenda items for all Family Planning Program contracts were #15a-#15g.
On January 12, 2022 and December 22, 2021, the Executive Council voted 4-1 against 24-month contracts. In September of 2021, the Council voted 4-1 to defund the health centers through December 31, 2021, a six-month contract period.
After the vote, PPNNE, Equality Health Center, and Lovering Health Center, released the following statements:
“We have been living in a post-Roe country for only one month, and already the nation’s sexual and reproductive health care landscape is chaos. There is a clear increased demand for birth control, making the Executive Council’s continued refusal to invest in critical family planning funding for New Hampshire’s most trusted reproductive health providers particularly cruel and irresponsible.” stated Kayla Montgomery, Vice President for Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Providers and state officials have demonstrated repeatedly that no state family planning funds are used for abortion care, but Councilors Kenney, Stevens, Gatsas, and Wheeler refuse to do their jobs and put the basic health care needs of New Hampshire before their personal politics. Today’s vote is yet another reprehensible decision that jeopardizes access to contraception, cancer screenings, and STI testing for our most vulnerable citizens.”
Sandi Denoncour, Executive Director of Lovering Health Center added, “The Executive Council’s repeated votes against comprehensive family planning funding for our state’s health centers is taking a toll. Following January’s vote, the Lovering Health Center made the difficult decision to eliminate our outreach staff position, which means we no longer have capacity for critical community education and prevention work. The Council’s repeated votes to defund reproductive health providers threatens New Hampshire’s strong maternal health outcomes, including the lowest unintended pregnancies and teen pregnancy rates in the country.”
“The fact is New Hampshire patients and our state’s health care infrastructure will be negatively impacted by these multiple defund votes. The Executive Council is failing public health and the over 12,000 Granite Staters who rely on our health centers to receive quality, affordable health care,” said Dalia Vidunas, Executive Director of Equality Health Center.
The Executive Council voted 4-1 against contracts for the reproductive health care providers in September 2021, December 2021, and January 2022; because of the votes, these providers have not received any state funding toward their family planning services, which includes STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, and birth control, since June 30, 2021. In 2020-2021, PPNNE, Equality Health Center, and Lovering Health Center provided care to approximately 75 percent of patients in the New Hampshire Family Planning Program.
New Hampshire State Budget:
- There is no provision in HB2 that requires physical separation of abortion services in order to receive Family Planning funding. The language is clear: here is Senator Bradley's introduction and explanation (video begins when he begins) of this new provision, which he introduced in this amendment) in the Committee of Conference. In the video, Senator Bradley says that this a moment of “trust, but verify” that commingling of funds is not happening and that he intended for funds to continue to go to reproductive health facilities, without delay. Prior to his amendment, Rep. Jess Edwards introduced an amendment that would have required physical and financial separation in order to receive state funds. However, Rep. Edwards’s amendment was not adopted.
- In September, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services confirmed what family planning providers have been saying all along: that no New Hampshire family planning dollars go toward abortion care. DHHS stated unequivocally, multiple times, that the financial reviews, which took place over the course of the summer, clearly showed that no Family Planning funds have been used for abortion. This fact has been echoed time and time again, most recently on July 22 by DHHS officials at a Fiscal Committee meeting.
NH Family Planning Program Impact:
- New Hampshire has the lowest unintended pregnancies and teen pregnancy rates in the country and some of the best maternal health outcomes; the New Hampshire Family Planning Program is part of the network of care that supports these positive measures.
- During an October Executive Council discussion over family planning funding, Councilor Cinde Warmington and DHHS Commissioner Shibinette highlighted the fragility of New Hampshire’s positive maternal/fetal health outcomes and the impact the defund votes could have. Full transcript here.
- Since the last family planning vote, Roe V. Wade has been overturned, ushering rapid chaos and confusion for family planning clinics in this country.
- PPNNE made the decision to close the Claremont, NH health center in June.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Care Delivery:
- In Fiscal Year 2022, over 11,000 Granite Staters relied on PPNNE’s New Hampshire health centers for high-quality, affordable health care.
- In November, PPNNE was named a 2021 Guardian of Excellence Award® winner by Press Ganey, the national leader in health care consumer and workforce engagement. Press Ganey recognizes PPNNE as a top-performing health care organization, achieving the 95th percentile or above for performance in patient experience, out of more than 20,000 medical practices.
Previous PPNNE Contract Votes:
- Four times in recent years (2011, 2015, 2021, and 2022), the care provided at local Planned Parenthood health centers was jeopardized when contracts were blocked by the Executive Council and state funding was interrupted.
- Then Councilor Chris Sununu was the deciding vote to defund PPNNE in 2015.
- Contracts were consistently approved between June of 2016 and September of 2021, with bipartisan support.