Wednesday, 28 December 2011

N.H. Pro Life Group Sues over Fed Funding of Planned Parenthood

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Despite assertions that the federal government does not utilize public funds for abortion, there is evidence to the contrary. The New Hampshire Right to Life organization is currently in the process of suing the Obama administration for access to records about a decision to fund Planned Parenthood in violation of state rules.

Fox News reports: “The organization filed suit on Thursday after complaining that the Department of Health and Human Services was ignoring its Freedom of Information Act request for documentation explaining why it awarded a $1 million grant to help fund family planning clinics in six cities despite a state decision to reject the money and allegedly absent a competitive process for health clinics to vie for the grant.”

The grant in question was distributed in September, after the state’s Executive Council voted 3-2 to reject nearly $2 million in federal money for health care clinics that provide abortions.

The Executive Council of New Hampshire is extraordinary in that it is responsible for approving all state contracts over $10,000. Members of the council are elected by voters.

After the federal government violated the Council’s order not to accept federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the three members of the Council who opposed the money filed a protest with the federal government, calling the contract void because it violated state sovereignty. Likewise, a state legislative committee met in February to review participation in all federal grant-in-aid programs, claiming that New Hampshire’s sovereign authority is being undermined by the federal government.

The committee, headed by Rep. Gregory Sorg, indicates that 30 percent of the New Hampshire operational budget is currently in the form of federal money, and the committee is now insisting that every state program utilizing federal money explain the constitutional authority permitting federal involvement.

"The extent to which the federal government has insinuated itself into the budget and the administration of the government of this state has been found to be too great for this committee even adequately to identify and quantify, much less to determine the remedies for in the time available to it," reads the committee report. "The cure to the state's by-now narcotic-like dependence on federal funding for even basic state and local services cannot be other than a long term process."

New Hampshire Right to Life President Kurt Wuelper said in a statement that the people of New Hampshire “have the right to know why the Obama administration gave Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest baby killer, a million taxpayer dollars while cutting funding for state hospitals and community clinics.”

The New Hampshire Right to Life asked HHS in October to explain why it opted to provide money to Planned Parenthood without a competitive bidding system, but the government replied that it could not provide a response within 30 days, even as the law requires it to do. The group then opted to file suit on Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Wuelper indicates that the Obama administration has injected into the state of New Hampshire “unwanted abortion money and has violated the public trust by covering up communications with its abortion industry cronies.”

Wuelper is demanding that Health and Human Services release similar documents regarding Planned Parenthood in other states as well.

HHS spokesman Keith Maley has not commented on the suit, but Obama supporters contend that the Right to Life group has no chance of winning.

“It's federal money," said Colin Van Ostern, a former campaign aide to Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Fox News explains, “Van Ostern, currently a candidate to defeat freshman Dan St. Hilaire, the swing vote on the Executive Council rejecting the federal money, told that the U.S. government can disperse money to whomever it wants even when state officials reject it.”

"It is a shame the Executive Council surrendered local control by refusing to direct this federal funding to local providers, but at the end of the day it's far better for the federal government to help directly than for thousands more New Hampshire women to lose their access to birth control and cancer screenings in 2012 like they did in 2011,” said Van Ostern. “The Tea Partification of our state government last year is resulting in lawsuits, legal petitions and thousands of women being turned away from health care centers. It’s pathetic and embarrassing.”

Similar regulations have been enacted across the nation as well. Just this year, 19 states enacted over 160 pro-life regulations on abortion, reports the Guttmacher Institute. In some cases, those regulations include cutting state and federal funding to abortion clinics. According to the Christian Post, Virginia, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, and Oklahoma banned health insurance from covering abortions, while Indiana became the first state to bar federal funds in the form of Medicaid payments to abortion clinics, followed by North Carolina and a number of other states.

Indiana’s decision provoked criticism from the Obama administration, which submitted a letter to Indiana indicating that withholding funds from Planned Parenthood would unfairly prevent citizens from receiving “vital health care services.” But Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels denied the letter’s assertions, contending that residents of the state still have 800 non-abortion clinics to choose from for those vital services.

Photo: New Hampshire Right to Life members witness outside a Manchester Planned Parenthood facility.

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