In case you missed it, the Keene Sentinel published an opinion about the recent 4-1 Executive Council vote to defund Planned Parenthood and other family planning services in the state, which provide crucial health care services, for the fourth time. Each time, only Councilor Cinde Warmington, the Executive Council’s lone Democrat, voted to protect these services for Granite Staters.
As an Executive Councilor, Chris Sununu also voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and now his handpicked Executive Council has made it their mission to take away these vital services for Granite Staters who rely on them.
Read more here.
The councilors voting against the funding — and by extension their party and the voters who support them — don’t value women’s reproductive health care or improving fuller access to those lacking means. Instead, they continue to fall back with shameless political posturing on twisted logic, claiming to deny funding on anti-abortion grounds.
Only Democrat Cinde Warmington, who represents much of this region, voted to approve the contracts.
By law, Title X funding cannot be used for abortions, and the Republican councilors — Milford’s David Wheeler, who represents a number of towns in this area, Manchester’s Theodore Gatsas, the Seacoast’s Janet Stevens and the North Country’s Joseph Kenney — initially demanded assurances last year from Gov. Chris Sununu’s administration that the funds would be used as required.
That demand turned out to be a smokescreen, however, as they’ve continued to vote down the funding despite audits provided DHHS and an opinion from state Attorney General John Formella that established none of the centers were commingling Title X funding with independently derived funds or using it for other than its intended, non-abortion-related purpose.
The three centers denied Title X funding serve more than 17,000 residents and provide up to 80 percent of the state’s Family Planning Program services. That program subsidizes reproductive health care for low-income and under- and uninsured Granite Staters, including adolescents, LGTBQ+ residents, refugees and those at risk of unintended pregnancy due to substance abuse. Only four centers remain in the program — none nearer this region than Manchester — and DHHS has been unable to recruit alternative providers to replace the three being denied funding.
The result, Commissioner Lori Shibinette said, “is equivalent to reducing access to health-care services for low-income women.” This, in the end, will cost the state even more. And chillingly, Shibinette noted, the council’s vote would hinder the state’s ability to combat the looming spread of monkeypox.
And there’s a final takeaway: Despite his lip service to being a pro-choice, pro-women’s health Republican, Gov. Sununu offers little evidence to back up that claim.
As an Executive Councilor himself in 2015, he straddled the issue of Planned Parenthood funding, first voting against and then for it. At a press conference following last week’s vote, he all but shrugged his shoulders, saying he’d welcome a change in the sitting Republicans on the council but wouldn’t campaign for replacements or against them, saying he’s “never going to support candidates ... simply on one issue or one contract or one policy.”
That’s all too reminiscent of when he signed the restrictive abortion law last year which included draconian and punitive provisions he claimed not to like, saying in effect that, because they were part of the budget bill, “What else could I do?” It will be left to voters this fall whether they’re willing to accept his level of support for women’s reproductive health that is at best tepid and clearly toothless. ###