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PUBLIC HEALTH & EDUCATION | Orange County, Calif., Reinstates Planned Parenthood Contract, Restricts Future Funding

PUBLIC HEALTH & EDUCATION | Orange County, Calif., Reinstates Planned Parenthood Contract, Restricts Future Funding
[April 30, 2009]

Orange County, Calif., supervisors on Tuesday reinstated a health education grant to Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties but also voted to adopt a policy aimed at making it more difficult for the organization to obtain funding in the future, the Orange County Register reports (Muir, Orange County Register, 4/28). Supervisors in March voted unanimously to suspend the organization's nearly $300,000 contract to fund teen and preteen sex education programs, saying that they do not support the provision of county funds to Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions (Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, 4/29). The new policy says that tobacco settlement revenue, which is used for the grant, cannot fund health education programs and can be used only for direct clinical care, according to the Register. In addition, it states that tobacco settlement money cannot be used to fund services in locations where abortions are performed. The policy also requires clinics that offer counseling or family planning services that include discussion of abortion to separately account for the grant money to demonstrate that none of the funding is spent on abortion counseling or referrals.

The grant in question is used to fund educational health outreach efforts, including comprehensive sex education for teens and preteens, and does not fund abortion services (Orange County Register, 4/28). According to the Times, the new policy is broad enough to affect other organizations' health programs that use tobacco settlement money. Supervisor John Moorlach, in explaining his vote to adopt the new policies, said, "In this economic climate, I'm just looking at priorities." However, Jon Dunn, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, said that the move is "[c]learly ... an effort to target Planned Parenthood" and that it will hurt the county in the long run. "It's much more costly to treat people once they have a symptom than to provide them with the information they need to prevent an infection from occurring," he said (Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, 4/29). Dunn said Planned Parenthood plans to submit a grant proposal next year to fund a new breast cancer screening program for uninsured women (Los Angeles Times, 4/29).