It’s never good when I get an email that says “who should we be calling about this?” when I don’t know what “this” is. That happened to me Wednesday. While I was paying attention to the House session, the Executive Council was meeting. It was no secret. It was a regularly scheduled meeting, the agenda had been posted online for the world to see, and everything was perfectly aboveboard. I hadn’t taken the time to read the agenda. If I had, I would have seen item #35A:
“Authorize to enter into agreements with: (1) Concord Feminist Health Center, in the amount of $73,218, (2) Feminist Health Center of Portsmouth d/b/a Joan G Lovering Health Care, in the amount of $89,214, and (3) Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, in the amount of $737,568, to provide family planning services, for an amount not to exceed $900,000. Effective upon G&C approval through June 30, 2015. 100% General Funds.”
These aren’t Title X contracts. This is above and beyond Title X.
My email correspondent caught an item about the contract (which passed 4-0, by the way) in the Concord Monitor online. Someone else contacted me about the contract at the same time. By that time, it was a done deal – just as it would have been even if I had paid attention and sounded the alarm
None of the four councilors who supported the contracts can be considered a “surprise” vote. Chris Sununu, Republican from District 3 on the Seacoast, bucked his GOP colleagues in 2011 when PP was briefly denied participation in Title X (because once upon a time there were councilors who believed the state shouldn’t do business with abortion providers). The other three councilors are Democrats who self-identify as pro-choice: Colin Van Ostern (District 2, including an astounding gerrymander that brings together Durham, Concord, and Keene), Chris Pappas (District 4 including Manchester), and Debora Pignatelli (District 5 including Nashua).
The Council seat for District One, covering the northern two-thirds of the state, is vacant since the death of Ray Burton. Republican Joe Kenney will face Democrat Michael Cryans in a special election on March 11. The Monitor asked Cryans and Kenney for remarks on this week’s contract. From the article by Annmarie Timmons:
“Democrat Mike Cryans of Hanover said he views the $900,000 contract, which would cover birth control, health exams and cancer screenings for low-income women and families, as a “health care bill.” Cryans said he’d support the contract. Wakefield Republican Joe Kenney’s position was less clear. In a brief interview yesterday, Kenney said he had not read the contract but would look at it and call a Monitor reporter back with his thoughts. Kenney instead had his campaign manager, Casey Crane, return the call, and she said Kenney wants to investigate whether any of the contract’s money would pay for abortions, even indirectly. The contract, which would also provide money to the Concord Feminist Health Center in Concord and a health center in Portsmouth, does not cover abortions. But Crane, like the three Republican councilors who opposed the contract in 2011, said the contract still sends federal money to a facility that provides abortions.”
What could a New Hampshire resident have done to prevent this contract from passing? Really, the decision to pass the contract was sealed as soon as the results of the 2012 election came in.
The contracts – and how science and technology make a joke of contract terms
The contracts themselves are interesting, and so is the supporting documentation. Go to the online agenda here and click on “35A.” It’s fascinating to see how much detail goes into government-funded fertility suppression. A paragraph-by-paragraph breakdown would require book-length attention.
I am supposed to be reassured by this provision: “Since these funds support a statewide network of family planning services that is also supported by Title X funding, the federal restrictions under section 1008 of Title X of the Public Health Service Act, as amended, stipulating that ‘None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used for programs where abortion is a method of family planning’ will be applied to these contracts.” Further provisions prohibit the use of these contracts’ funds for capital improvements or “any costs not approved by the State.” Also, “[Department of Health and Human Services] funding may not be used to replace funding for a program already funded from another source.”
What do I have to take on faith here?
- I would have to believe that money isn’t fungible – meaning that money allocated for a specific purpose will actually be spent only on that purpose. I would have to believe that this contract money does not in any way free up other funds by the abortion providers for use in providing abortions and lobbying against abortion regulation.
- I would have to believe that self-reporting would be sufficient for determining contract compliance.
- I would have to believe, against scientific evidence, that chemical abortions (called medical abortions by abortion providers, because somehow the word “chemical” might put some people off) are not really abortions. Some methods that pass for “contraception” are in fact abortive. Science and medicine have moved beyond politics.
All set until 2015
The contract is done. The money will flow. If you have any concerns about what this says about the state’s financial priorities, if you don’t want your money going to abortion providers, if you don’t want your money going for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, too bad.
I didn’t see it coming, and I should have. I’m not feeling (too) discouraged, but certainly humbled.
Will there be a next time? Probably. Ponder this: how many potential Executive Council candidates would know how to handle the false accusation of wanting to deny people “health care”? And how many potential candidates do you know who would challenge any incumbent councilor’s disrespect for prolife taxpayers?