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Family planning clinics say loss of funds mean service cuts

September 20, 2021 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Family planning providers that were denied state funding for routine health care services such as screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases said Monday that they could see cuts in services and longer patient waiting times as a result.

“State funding for this care is critical because it covers low-income and uninsured Granite staters who rely on us for these specific health care services,” said Kayla Montgomery, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which was denied funding.

She spoke on a call Monday with New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, which has asked the Department of Health and Human Services to award supplemental grants to the clinics.

The New Hampshire Executive Council decided last week against extending contracts to Planned Parenthood and two other family planning services that also provide abortions. No public money funds abortions in the state.

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The Republican-majority council voted against the contracts under a new state requirement that mandates financial audits of reproductive health facilities to ensure no public funds are paying for abortion-related services. Councilors did not feel the requirement was met.

Montgomery said Planned Parenthood clinics in New Hampshire see about 12,000 patients.

“Rates of unattended pregnancy and teen pregnancy in New Hampshire are among the lowest in the country, and that is in large part to the New Hampshire family planning program and the work that our health centers do every single day,” she said.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu supported the contracts and called the council’s vote a “huge mistake,” suggesting there would be other ways to fund the clinics. But during Monday’s call, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, said he could have taken a stronger stance in support of the funding at the outset or held onto the contracts. She called his statement to distance himself from the council “not credible.”

Paul Collins, a senior adviser to Sununu, called the statement “absolutely absurd and ridiculous propaganda.” He said Sununu “has supported and brought forward these family planning contracts at every opportunity since becoming governor.”

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This story has been corrected to show that first name of the senator is Jeanne, not Jean.