August 6, 2015 — The New Hampshire Executive Council on Wednesday voted 3-2 to deny Planned Parenthood centers in the state roughly one-third of their total public funding, following the release of a series of misleading videos about the organization, the New York Times reports (Bidgood, New York Times, 8/5).
The videos, which depict Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donation, were released by an antiabortion-rights group called the Center for Medical Progress. CMP secretly filmed the videos by meeting with Planned Parenthood staff while posing as buyers of fetal tissue.
Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal. Meanwhile, supporters of Planned Parenthood said the videos are part of a decades-long campaign against the organization (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/4).
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England does not participate in a tissue donation program.
The council on Wednesday considered contracts with four health care providers in the state for family planning services that totaled about $1 million (AP/WMUR-TV, 8/5). The council voted to reject contracts that would have allocated just under $640,000 to Planned Parenthood centers in the state (New York Times, 8/5). Meanwhile, the council approved contracts with the three other health care centers: Concord Feminist Health Center, Joan G. Lovering Health Center and Weeks Medical Center.
According to AP/WMUR-TV, Planned Parenthood centers in the state will still receive federal funding. However, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) and Jennifer Frizzell, vice president for public policy at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said clinics will have to reduce services because of the vote. In 2014, the organization provided services to more than 12,000 people.
Hassan said, "I find it very, very troubling that anyone would vote against these contracts just because the national political climate is a little difficult."
Separately, Councilor Chris Pappas (D) said, "Voting against this contract is not going to stop one single abortion in New Hampshire, but it is going to stop thousands of people from accessing quality, affordable health care."
N.H. AG Will Not Investigate Planned Parenthood
Hassan on Wednesday also said that the state attorney general's office would not conduct an investigation into Planned Parenthood because it has not received evidence that the organization committed any illegal actions.
"We do not launch investigations in the state of New Hampshire on rumor," Hassan said, adding, "We do not launch criminal investigations in the state of New Hampshire because somebody edits a tape" (AP/WMUR-TV, 8/5).
Investigation Finds No Improper Fetal Tissue Sale in Fla.
In related news, an investigation into Planned Parenthood facilities in Florida -- spurred by CMP's videos -- found no indication that the organization conducted any improper sale of fetal tissue or organs, Politico Pro reports (Sexton, Politico Pro, 8/5).
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) called for the investigation last week. Laura Goodhue, executive director at the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, has noted in the past that the Florida facilities do not participate in the tissue donation program.
Separately, during the investigation, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration found that three of the 16 Planned Parenthood facilities in the state provided abortion care during the second trimester of pregnancy even though they were licensed only to provide abortion care in the first trimester. However, Goodhue noted that the violations were the result of AHCA having modified its definitions for gestational periods and that centers were in compliance with Florida law.
Goodhue said, "In the health centers AHCA reported on we only perform first trimester abortions, which we measure according to accepted medical guidelines and in accordance with Florida regulations as up to 13 weeks and six days from a woman's last menstrual cycle. This, as defined by rules, is still the first trimester." She added, "AHCA has never before indicated any different interpretation of this -- including at inspections performed as recently as two weeks ago. AHCA's new interpretation is grossly inconsistent with years of previous inspections and outside of both the regulations and accepted medical standards."
Meanwhile, the investigation also found that one other clinic was not following its own protocols for log keeping (Fischer, AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/5).