N.H. Planned Parenthood Clinics Stop Dispensing Birth Control After Contract Loss

July 11, 2011 — Six Planned Parenthood clinics in New Hampshire last week stopped dispensing contraceptives after the state's Executive Council voted to reject a new contract with the organization, the Concord Monitor reports. Planned Parenthood had operated under a limited retail pharmacy license that was contingent on a state contract, Steve Trombley, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said.

Two weeks ago, the all-Republican Executive Council voted 3-2 against a new contract that would have awarded the organization $1.8 million in state and federal funds for two years. Executive Councilor Dan St. Hilaire, who opposed the contract, said the funds should go to a different organization that does not offer abortion services. The council approved 10 other contracts for family planning services. Another council member, Raymond Wieczorek, said he rejected the Planned Parenthood contract because it included funds to provide condoms.

The contract with Planned Parenthood accounts for about 20% of the organization's budget. It would have funded education programs, distribution of contraceptives, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, according to the Monitor. Trombley said the funds do not pay for abortion services. He also said the clinics treat about 52% of all patients whose care is subsidized under the state's family planning program.

Amanda Mehegan, site manager for PPNNE's Hanover clinic, said the center has turned away between 20 and 30 patients daily who are seeking birth control prescriptions or refills. Mehegan said some women report that they will stop taking their birth control pills because they cannot afford the higher prices charged by pharmacies. She said about 70% of the center's patients lack private insurance. In addition, she is concerned that many New Hampshire residents enrolled in state insurance programs will not be able to access basic preventive services, like breast and cervical cancer screenings, because of the funding cuts. "For most of our patients, Planned Parenthood may be the only medical visit they have in a year," Mehegan said.

Trombley said the organization will have to reduce the number of services it offers if the contract is not renewed. Last Thursday, PPNNE launched an advertising campaign about the council's refusal in an effort to convince St. Hilaire, who voted for every other family planning contract except the Planned Parenthood one, to reconsider (Langley, Concord Monitor, 7/8).