March 13, 2013 — The Montana House Appropriations Committee on Monday voted 11-10 against a motion that would have restored $4.6 million in federal family planning funds that flow through the state to local health clinics, The Missoulian reports.
Republicans on a budget subcommittee previously blocked the funding from a state budget measure because a portion of the money was expected to go to five clinics that are operated by Planned Parenthood of Montana. A total of 25 health clinics statewide, which serve about 26,000 women annually, would have received the funding.
Rep. Ron Ehli (R), chair of the budget subcommittee, argued that although federal law prohibits the use of the funds for abortion services, many Montana residents do not want the money to go to family planning providers that also provide abortions.
Democratic lawmakers expressed disappointment with the committee vote, arguing that it is unfair to penalize all clinics because some also provide abortions. They added that the funding supports vital health services for low-income Montanans (Dennison, The Missoulian, 3/11).