Notes on Executive Council, PP, & retroactive funding (again)

New Hampshire Executive Council chamber (nh.gov photo)
New Hampshire Executive Council chamber (nh.gov photo)

Pro-life New Hampshire readers have probably already seen the recent alert from New Hampshire Right to Life, warning of an upcoming vote by the Executive Council that might send funds to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, retroactive to what would have been the starting date of the contract that the Council rejected last August. Call your Councilor, says NHRTL, and I second that.

A few thoughts, in no particular order, with links to relevant posts:


The next Executive Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 29 at 10 a.m. at the State House. The agenda for the meeting won’t be posted publicly until just a few days in advance, at which time we’ll find out if the retroactive funding is indeed coming up for a vote. Here is a link to the web page where the agenda will be posted; when you see “June 29” listed as a meeting date, there will be a link to the agenda.

Look up your district here and your Councilor’s contact information here.

This threatens to be a dreary re-run of bygone days. From 2013: PPNNE to get retroactive $$ from state? and Retroactivity, or how not to de-fund an abortion provider.

Abortion isn’t health care, but embedding abortion within authentic health care for women has proven to be a lucrative business model. The Executive Councilors are in a good position to disrupt that model.

Did the Council “de-fund” PP last August? Only if you think a $20 million organization can be de-funded by denying it a $638,000 two-year contract. 

Recall that Councilors Joe Kenney, Chris Sununu, and Dave Wheeler voted to reject the PP contract last August. At that meeting, Kenney and Sununu both cited the Center for Medical Progress videos as a factor in their vote. Those videos feature PP employees discussing trafficking in body parts, with a PP medical professional describing her willingness to alter abortion procedures not to provide the best care to women but to extract the most lucrative intact fetal organs. 

I was at the August 2015 meeting and heard the discussion that preceded the vote. Sununu said something that got short shrift from some of his colleagues and Governor Hassan: “I’m pro-choice and I support Planned Parenthood, but in my district, women have no [other] choice.” From my report on the meeting: “He unsuccessfully urged Hassan and his fellow Councilors to ‘take a step back’ and support a study of health care options in Sununu’s southeastern New Hampshire district. He said he got calls from constituents who wanted family planning services but not at Planned Parenthood.

Those constituents need to get on the phone again. Sununu voted in favor of a PPNNE contract in 2011, and against one in 2015. A swing vote, for sure. 

Oh, the (in)humanity: In August, Councilor Chris Pappas said it would be inhumane to deny PP its contract. He then expressed reservations about the CMP videos. It was unclear whether he had watched the videos or whether he might flag any part of the content “inhumane.”

Dismissing his colleagues’ concerns about the CMP videos, Councilor Colin Van Ostern (now seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor) called opposition to the August contract “ideology” and the CMP videos “heavily edited.” He has had ten months since then to view the unedited videos, still available online.

Governor Hassan, in an unguarded (but on-the-record) moment at the August meeting, said before the PP contract vote, “I’m sure Planned Parenthood would review its operations if this was voted down.” When the contract was voted down a few minutes later, Hassan’s team was ready with a blistering press release: “It is clear that today’s vote is the result of an ideological and political attack against Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions …The council’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood will hurt the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters.” No mention there of PP reviewing its operations. Likewise, there was no mention of how the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters could be hurt by removing only $319,000 from PPNNE’s $20 million annual budget. (Remember, the denied contract was for $638,000 over two years.)

Note that no one on the Council intends to retire from public office this year.

Councilor Colin Van Ostern, a Democrat, is running for Governor. So is Chris Sununu, a Republican.

Councilors Joe Kenney (R), Chris Pappas (D), and Dave Wheeler (R) are running to keep their Council seats.

As for Governor Maggie Hassan (D), she is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Kelly Ayotte.

 

On this date: Komen cuts off PP $$ (until PP objects)

PP on Pennacook StreetJanuary 31, 2012: The Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer research-and-treatment foundation announced that it would no longer give grants to Planned Parenthood. Komen’s CEO, Nancy Brinker, said “Our issue is grant excellence. [Planned Parenthood clinics] do pass-through grants with their screening grants: they send people to other facilities. We want to do more direct service grants.” There was also concern with Komen leadership because Planned Parenthood was under Congressional investigation.  Komen had also been under pressure from pro-life groups concerned about Komen’s financial ties to PP.

February 3, 2012: Komen reverses its decision.

What happened between those two dates was a lesson and a warning: anyone who tries to stop giving money to PP, however small an amount, will be smeared.  Also, PP shrewdly turned Komen’s decision into a fundraising opportunity, reportedly getting $250,000 in donations within days – donations not earmarked for breast health work, by the way.

Fox News reported at the time that Komen grants to PP totaled roughly $680,000 in 2011 and $580,000 in 2010, “going to at least 19 of its affiliates for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services.” Those services were (and remain) primarily manual breast exams. PP does not do mammograms, as PP leader Cecile Richards affirmed to a Congressional committee in 2015.

Remember – Komen was planning to pull the PP grants in order to give the money to organizations doing more direct breast-care services. That wasn’t acceptable to PP.

At the time of the Komen flap, Richards decried the politicization of women’s health. “It’s hard to understand how an organization with whom we share a mission of saving women’s lives could have bowed to this kind of bullying. It’s really hurtful.” To the New York Times: “I think there’s really been a chord struck over this issue, this issue of political organizations who are trying to politicize women’s reproductive health. This kind of political bullying — I think folks are just saying, ‘Enough.’”

Komen officials could have swapped stories with her about how hurtful it is to bow to bullies.

One Komen executive, Karen Handel, soon became an ex-Komen executive. She wrote a book, Planned Bullyhood,  in an attempt to set the already-cloudy record straight. From Politifact, September 25, 2012:

“Some critics suggested Handel was behind Komen’s policy decision. But in her book, Handel says Komen had considered ending the relationship with Planned Parenthood ‘for at least a decade,’ as Komen restructured its grant model to focus on measurable outcomes to fighting breast cancer. That focus, she said, excluded much of what Planned Parenthood did.

“In her book, Handel makes pointed statements regarding Planned Parenthood’s services, noting that the organization promoted itself as a provider of mammograms to poor women.  

“‘The truth is, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms,’ she wrote. ‘Planned Parenthood refers women to mammography providers, serving as the middlewoman, if you will.'”

Today, Komen affiliates are free to give grants to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is still not a breast cancer research organization, nor does it provide mammograms.