Michigan GOP lawmakers oppose state aid for Planned Parenthood
Lansing — More than two dozen House Republicans want a state panel to reject a proposed $1.2 million increase in funding for Planned Parenthood to provide family planning services for low-income Detroit women that do not include abortions.
Led by Rep. Gary Glenn, a group of 29 lawmakers signed a letter Thursday to members of the finance and claims committee of the State Administrative Board urging them to reject the increased grant for Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan.
The GOP legislators contend the funding “is a clear violation of the spirit” of an amendment in the 2016 state budget prohibiting state funding for Planned Parenthood.
“It’s the conscience of the House that tax dollars shouldn’t be used to support abortions,” said Glenn, R-Midland.
But the funding for Planned Parenthood does not go toward abortions, said Jennifer Eisner, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
“This contract amendment is for family planning services that are funded by federal Title X dollars, which must go toward services including contraception, preconception health, pregnancy testing, basic infertility services, gynecologic services and related preventive health services,” Eisner said Thursday in an email.
Eisner said the Legislature’s prohibition of funding for Planned Parenthood only applies to state tax dollars.
The grant for Planned Parenthood comes from a mixture of 35 percent federal funds, 8 percent from a restricted state fund, 8 percent local funding and 49 percent that Planned Parenthood generates from patients and donations, according DHHS.
“The state of Michigan does not have leeway to exclude a provider on philosophical grounds,” said Lori Carpentier, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan. “This is federal money. These are not state dollars.”
Planned Parenthood provides the health care services to 6,400 low-income Detroit women through a contract that was previously held by the Institute for Population Health in Detroit, Carpentier said.
Opponents of Planned Parenthood have argued that government aid for non-abortion services frees the group to spend more on abortion services.
The State Administrative Board’s finance and claims committee meets Tuesday in Lansing to decide whether to approve the grant. The committee is composed of designees of Gov. Rick Snyder, state Treasurer Nick Khouri and Attorney General Bill Schuette.
The full board has a meeting scheduled for Dec. 15 in Lansing.
The proposed amendment would increase Planned Parenthood’s total contract with the state to about $10 million for the 2016 fiscal year, including the fees and donations the organization generates.
Glenn said Republican lawmakers are working on other ways to try to eliminate aid for the abortion provider by cutting off the flow of federal funds.
“If they didn’t spend it to give it Planned Parenthood, they could spend it on other state activities,” Glenn said of the State Administrative Board. “So they’re not mandated to give it to Planned Parenthood.”
Carpentier said the state is only a conduit for the federal funding and cannot prevent it from flowing to Planned Parenthood.
“This move would put DHHS and therefore the state of Michigan significantly out of compliance with the federal rules,” Carpentier said.
Planned Parenthood has fought similar battles over Title X funding in other states in court, she said.
“We pretty much win everywhere,” Carpentier said. “And we wouldn’t hesitate to make this a legal issue.”