Republicans Reject NH Family Planning Clinic Contracts Again

CONCORD — Republicans rejected contracts with New Hampshire health clinics for the third time on Wednesday over unfounded concerns that public money pays for abortions.

As in September and December, the executive counsel – which approves appointments and state contracts – voted 4 to 1 to deny funding to the Equality Health Center, love health center and Northern New England Family Planning.

The Seacoast-area Republican on the council is Janet Stevens of Rye.

The contracts were the first to be offered under a new requirement that the state confirm financial separation between family planning programs and abortion services. During the first vote in September, the audits were incomplete.

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Councilors received audit reports confirming the funds had not been mixed up when the second vote was taken, but one councilor said she was concerned clinics had yet to fix issues unrelated to how whose money was spent.

State officials said Wednesday those issues have been resolved — but the vote was the same.

Councilor David Wheeler said the information provided was not sufficient to prove that state money was not used directly or indirectly to pay for abortion services. Neither he nor the three other Republicans on the board responded when Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette asked what information would satisfy them.

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“Is there anything I can provide, anything I can tell you?” she said. “Whatever?”

The contracts, which were backed by Governor Chris Sununu, would have extended the funding the clinics and their 12,000 patients have relied on for years for cancer screenings, sexually transmitted disease tests and other healthcare services. routine health.

Public health officials have said patients will likely end up forgoing treatment or seeking it at hospitals already overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, our health care system is under strain at every level,” said Councilwoman Cinde Warmington, the council’s only Democrat, who voted in favor of the contracts.

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Sandi Denoncour, executive director of the Lovering Health Center, said clinics and health officials have bent over backwards to answer questions from the board over the past six months.

“As affirmed by the Attorney General, our health centers are in full compliance with state law,” she said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Council’s willful ignorance threatens New Hampshire’s strong maternal health outcomes, including the lowest unintended and teen pregnancy rates in the nation.”

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