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N.H. House Kills Bill To Defund Facilities That Provide, Refer Patients for Abortion

N.H. House Kills Bill To Defund Facilities That Provide, Refer Patients for Abortion

February 19, 2015 — The New Hampshire House on Wednesday voted 216-142 to reject a measure (HB 677) that would have defunded family planning and health centers across the state, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports (Rayno, New Hampshire Union Leader, 2/18).

According to Foster's Daily Democrat, the vote kills the bill for the Legislature's two-year session (Conley, Foster's Daily Democrat, 2/19).

Legislation Details

Under the measure, proposed by state Rep. Warren Groen (R), health centers that perform abortions, refer patients to have the procedure or support abortion rights would have been banned from receiving any state funding.

Currently, New Hampshire law forbids state funding from going toward abortion services, except in instances of rape, incest and when a woman's life is in danger. Groen's bill would have blocked facilities from receiving state funds, even for non-abortion related services.

Bill's Scope

If approved, the bill likely would have affected five Planned Parenthood clinics, the Concord Feminist Health Center and the Joan G. Lovering Health Center. The facilities also perform medical screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted infections and family planning services. For example, about two-thirds of the 1,600 patients treated annually at the Joan G. Lovering Health Center undergo a treatment other than abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/9).

According to the Daily Democrat, the state currently allocates about $368,000 in annual funding for Planned Parenthood, about $45,000 for the Joan G. Lovering Health Center and $36,000 for the Feminist Health Center (Foster's Daily Democrat, 2/19).

The bill could have also cut off funding for hospitals that provide patient referrals for abortion or perform the procedure (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/9).

Debate on the Measure

During debate on the measure, supporters said that contracts with such facilities indirectly provide state taxpayer funding for abortion. State Rep. Kurt Wuelper (R) said, "This bill requires those that provide abortion services to separate those services from everything else they do so we can be assured we are not being hoodwinked into providing those services."

However, state Rep. Charlene Takesian (R), who opposed the bill, said that the state is already prohibited from funding abortion and that federal auditors review the funding annually to ensure public money is not used for abortions.

Takesian said the bill instead would end other health care services for low-income state residents, such as annual exams, cancer screenings and family planning (New Hampshire Union Leader, 2/18).

Planned Parenthood Applauds Vote

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards applauded the vote. "Politicians across the country should take notice of what happened in New Hampshire today," she said, adding, "Not only did we beat back an out-of-touch measure to block women from coming to Planned Parenthood, but we did so with support from 76 Republican elected officials" (Foster's Daily Democrat, 2/19).