A subcommittee of the N.H. House Finance Committee voted 4-3 along party lines on March 22 to recommend that abortion providers receiving state funds for non-abortion work move their abortion business into a free-standing program. The vote came as part of the subcommittee’s work on the state budget for the upcoming biennium.
Next stop for the committee’s proposal is the full House Finance Committee.
Kevin Landrigan of the New Hampshire Union Leader reported on the subcommittee session chaired by Rep. Jess Edwards (R-Derry). “Edwards said for these providers ‘all money is fungible,’ and the amendment is meant to prevent these providers from mixing grant spending.”
Translation, as near as I can figure: if this provision winds up in the state budget – and that’s a BIG “if” – any health care provider that also provides abortions will have to create a separate legal and financial entity for its abortion business. Otherwise, the provider would not be eligible for state funding.
Kayla Montgomery of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Action Fund is hoping Gov. Chris Sununu, who identifies himself as pro-choice, will object. WMUR’s Adam Sexton quoted Montgomery as saying “…we look forward to working with [Sununu] and making sure we can continue to have a positive reproductive health landscape in New Hampshire.”
As an executive councilor, Sununu usually voted to give contracts to abortion providers for non-abortion services.
From the Union Leader report: “Rep. Erica Layon, R-Derry, had at first proposed that groups that get family planning grants be blocked from providing abortions.” Edwards replied, “Abortion is a constitutionally protected medical procedure and although I am pro-life, I am very pro-Constitution.”
Hence the move to force creation of freestanding abortion facilities that are clearly separate from family planning facilities. The abortion entities wouldn’t be able to apply for the family planning grants in the first place.
For New Hampshire, this would be a major policy shift. The discussion is taking place as federal officials including the President ponder removal of Hyde Amendment protections from federal Health and Human Services funding.
More from the Union Leader: “But Rep. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, said this change would cause financial hardship to these non-profit health care providers. ‘These health centers are not blessed with a large amount of money; they have had a lot of difficulty dealing with the loss of federal funding in the past few years.'”
That “loss of federal funding” was met with extra “family planning” funds in the current state budget, allocated to family planning contractors threatened with loss of federal funding if they continued doing abortions. That federal threat no longer exists, with abortion-friendly President Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in place.
As for the “not blessed with a large amount of money” argument, read PPNNE’s 2020 financial report yourself. Whatever losses may have been sustained, there was still enough money for a million dollars in “public policy” work.
If you are inclined to ask the full Finance Committee to accept the recommendation from Division III (the relevant subcommittee) that family planning providers create separate entities for their abortion work, you can email HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. I’m fairly certain they’re already hearing from people who want the recommendation ignored.