Follow the money: family planning in the state budget proposal

A reader has kindly alerted me to the “family planning” line item in the proposed New Hampshire budget, due for a vote in the House tomorrow, April 5.

A bit of background: some of the family planning contractors in our state are abortion providers, who come to the Executive Council threatening denial of services to patients if the Council doesn’t hand over the money. Those providers keep saying that family planning money – specifically Title X money, awarded to states by the federal government – can’t be used for abortions. The same providers then press members of Congress to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which is all that stands between Title X and abortion.

As New Hampshire HHS Commissioner Meyers told the Executive Council in 2016,  family planning grants help pay for abortion providers’ “infrastructure,” also known as overhead costs.

But anyway, back to family planning, now that we know where abortion providers fit in.

Into the Weeds: Page 1191

Here’s a picture of page 1191 from the report prepared by the Office of Legislative Budget Assistant, comparing New Hampshire budget family planning allocations from fiscal years 2016 through 2019. This looks at past spending, plus projections for the next biennium. The “Governor” column reflects the budget request made by Governor Sununu. “H Finance” means House Finance Committee, and it’s the Finance Committee’s proposal that’s getting a House vote this week.

Numbers Get Larger

Look at the “contracts for program services” line. The numbers grow from about a million bucks in FY 2016 to a projected $1.5 million in FY 2019, or to $1.8 million if the House Finance Committee’s request goes through. That’s quite an increase.

The general fund line near the bottom indicates how much money comes directly from state coffers. Again, there’s a projected increase.

Right above that is the gold mine: federal funds. These are grants, including but not limited to Title X, that flow from Washington to Concord for use in specific programs. (And they are tax dollars, just like the money from the state general fund.) In FY 2016, federal family planning money for New Hampshire came to around $700,000.  For FY 2019, the governor expects $1.1 million while House Finance expects $1.4 million.

How many other New Hampshire health and human services needs are getting that kind of boost in this budget?

Looking ahead

I’ve emailed the federal HHS department in the hope that someone there can show me data to support those projected federal numbers for FYs 2018 and 2019. The reader who suggested I take a look at the family planning budget tried that already and got an unsatisfactory answer. I’m not going to bet on getting an answer before the state budget is passed and signed.

At any rate, we’re getting a preview of Executive Council meetings yet to come. Whatever amount is approved for family planning in the next biennium, the “contracts for program services” will go through the Council. The usual contractors, including abortion providers, will be there for a piece of the ever-growing pie.

 



NH HHS official: “In New Hampshire, there is no such thing as an abortion clinic”

Sunday paper, front page, above the fold: good old-fashioned public-service reporting can’t get better placement than that. The May 19 New Hampshire Sunday News featured an article, credited to “staff report,” headlined “Officials say NH abortion sites need state scrutiny.”

Why aren’t the sites getting the scrutiny now? Because they are classified as physician offices. Here is a quote from the article, giving us the information straight from the New Hampshire department responsible for overseeing public health.

“Kris Neilsen, communications director for the state Department of Health and Human Services, explained in an email that abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood and the Concord Feminist Health Center are exempt from state licensing and inspection requirements because they are considered physician offices. Twenty-three health care providers such as hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and dialysis centers are licensed by the state, but not abortion clinics. ‘In New Hampshire, there is no such thing as an abortion clinic – the majority of abortions are done in doctors offices … and doctors’ offices are exempt from licensure under RSA 151:2 II,’ Neilsen said.
Because they are exempt, we have no jurisdiction over them, and neither does anyone else.'”

Click on the link to the Sunday News article to read the responses from New Hampshire’s abortion providers, who have clearly not taken the Gosnell case to heart except as an opportunity to circle the wagons. Remarkably, the public policy director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England gave the Sunday News nothing beyond the formal post-Gosnell statement issued by the national PP office. No improvisation allowed on this one, apparently.

Words like “exempt” and “no jurisdiction” should not apply to any facility where abortions are performed. How did New Hampshire policy get to this point?

  • Enough legislators and over the years bought the claim that abortion is “health care,” no different from cancer screenings or annual checkups.
  • Enough legislators have bought the claim that “choice” and “women’s health” are synonymous.
  • Abortion advocates in New Hampshire have done a good job of building coalitions fearful of losing Roe, ensuring that all attempts at regulating the industry are met with public opposition from medical and pastoral professionals as well as abortion-facility clients.
  • Arising from and reinforcing all these factors is New Hampshire’s refusal to demand full and accurate reporting of adverse abortion outcomes for women. Without accurate and objective statistical information, abortion providers can get away with saying that there is no evidence that New Hampshire women are at risk when they seek abortion.

None of these factors takes into consideration the medical and legal status of the fetus. One need not accept fetal personhood to see that abortion providers in New Hampshire have an unjustifiably privileged status under law. Why should such providers escape the regulations that govern dialysis or medical labs or end-of-life care? It makes no sense from the point of women’s health. Put an abstract “right” to abortion ahead of concern for actual women, though, and the current situation makes a weird sort of sense.

References to physicians’ or doctors’ offices are ironic in this context. There is no restriction in New Hampshire on who may perform abortions, with or without medical training. The “reputable” abortion providers who employ physicians and nurse-practitioners are silent on whether they would support legislation to change that.

It depends on which has the higher priority: women’s health, or unrestricted access to abortion.

One also wonders where the HHS representative quoted by the Sunday News got the information that most abortions in New Hampshire are performed in doctors’ offices. That would indicate that someone is keeping track. In fact, no one is.

And finally, that’s news.