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STATE POLITICS & POLICY | Planned Parenthood Accuses Orange County, Calif., Officials of Blocking Breast Health Program

STATE POLITICS & POLICY | Planned Parenthood Accuses Orange County, Calif., Officials of Blocking Breast Health Program
[Aug. 3, 2009]

Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties last week accused Orange County officials of having "gerrymandered" the process for distributing health grants and hindering the organization's ability to establish a breast health program, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Over the last eight years, Planned Parenthood and 17 other community clinics have received revenue from a tobacco settlement to fund health education programs. In March, the Board of Supervisors suspended Planned Parenthood's contract after a constituent noted that taxpayer money was going to a group that performs abortions. The contract was reinstated with new guidelines that money go toward providing "direct medical" services and not toward abortion services. To meet the new guidelines, Planned Parenthood created the Breast Health Program for low-income women younger than age 40. The county rejected the program, followed by about two months of negotiations. The plan was abandoned last week after a deal was not reached within the 23-hour deadline imposed by the county Health Care Agency.

In a letter sent last week to the Board of Supervisors and the Health Care Agency, PP OSBC President and CEO Jon Dunn wrote, "The county placed obstacle after obstacle in Planned Parenthood's path, ultimately making [the breast health program] impossible to implement." He noted that the county refused to properly fund the program, held the organization to different accounting standards than other groups, and "refused to negotiate and imposed an unworkable deadline." According to Dunn, the "real reason" for the obstacles and the difficult negotiations was because the organization provides abortion services. He added, "You have eliminated critical health education programs, created barriers to critically needed care. You will be held accountable for your reckless and irresponsible actions."

On Thursday, the county health agency released a statement saying that it had "worked in good faith" to reach an agreement but that funding could not be approved because "Planned Parenthood chose not to sign and return their agreement by the deadline date" (Abdollah, Los Angeles Times, 7/31).