CONCORD – Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund (PPNHAF) and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) applauded the New Hampshire Senate on Thursday for passing a budget that protects funding for reproductive health care for more than 16,000 Granite Staters, fully funds the state STD/HIV prevention program, and removes an unnecessary barrier to abortion access. The state Senate passed the budget with a 14-9 vote.
Senate budget writers included $1.6 million (over two years) of family planning funding in the budget as contingency funding to ensure that patients can continue to access affordable family planning services in the event that federal funding through the Title X program is cut by a proposed gag rule. If the gag rule goes into effect and family planning providers in the state lose Title X funding, the contingency funding in the state budget will be used to help the more than 16,000 low-income or uninsured people in New Hampshire continue to access essential health care, including birth control, STD testing and treatment, and cancer screenings.
The Title X gag rule would prohibit health care providers in the Title X program from referring patients for abortion, and would impose onerous and unnecessary “physical separation” restrictions on health centers that provide, refer, or counsel on abortion. The gag rule is widely viewed as a violation of acceptable medical ethics, and as a result, many New Hampshire Title X providers, including those that do not provide abortion services, will be unable to participate in the Title X program if this rule takes effect. The gag rule is being challenged in federal court, and if the rule does not go into effect, the contingency state family planning funds will not be used.
The New Hampshire Senate’s budget also includes $700,000 over the biennium to restore the state-supported HIV/STD prevention program. During fiscal years 2012/2013, the HIV/STD prevention program was completely eliminated from the budget. Since then, New Hampshire has experienced a spike in sexually transmitted diseases across the state. Gonorrhea and syphilis are both in outbreak status, and there’s been a dramatic increase in chlamydia over the last five years.
Additionally, the state Senate budget removed section 156:211 of the FY 2018-19 budget – an amendment that bans state funds from paying for abortion care. This amendment put into New Hampshire statute a state version of the federal Hyde Amendment, which prevents any federal funds from being used to provide abortion care. Proponents of the amendment suggested this language was necessary to close a so-called “loophole” – no such loophole exists, as Medicaid does not cover abortion access in New Hampshire.
The Senate Finance Committee voted to repeal this amendment. A floor amendment to keep the amendment as is was offered, but it failed on party lines. The repeal of this amendment – a policy amendment placed in the budget with no public hearing – is an important step in reducing a barrier to abortion care in New Hampshire.
Though the Governor’s budget did not include the additional contingency family planning funding or funding to restore the HIV/STD prevention program, PPNHAF hopes Gov. Sununu recognizes the importance of this critical funding and keeps it in the budget.
Statement from Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund:
“We applaud the New Hampshire Senate for recognizing the importance of protecting access to reproductive health care for Granite Staters while crafting and approving the state budget. By including additional contingency family planning funding to protect patients from the dangerous Title X gag rule, and removing an unnecessary barrier to care, a majority of the state Senate continued New Hampshire’s long-standing tradition of supporting reproductive health care. Additionally, senators restored funding for the state-supported HIV/STD prevention program at a time when it’s absolutely critical that we address the alarming rise of STDs in our state. We urge Gov. Sununu to recognize the importance of this funding by approving a budget with these strong measures to protect positive public health outcomes.”
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. Last year we saw nearly 14,000 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. The Action Fund makes independent expenditures on behalf of or in opposition to targeted candidates for public office. Follow us on Twitter. PPNHAF maintains a separate, segregated political committee and fund to make direct campaign contributions to endorsed candidates (the PAC).