State Budget Could Jeopardize Millions Of Federal Dollars For Planned Parenthood

By Will Stone
Published: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 3:54pm
Updated: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 4:13pm

For more than thirty years, Title X funding — federal dollars set aside for services like birth control, breast cancer screening, STD testing — has gone to the Arizona Family Health Partnership.

“We have been active in the Title X community that entire time,” Brenda Thomas, who leads that nonprofit, told KJZZ.

The Arizona Family Health Partnership then distributes the $4.5 million grant to providers around the state. Close to half of the money goes to Planned Parenthood.

“Frankly Arizona is one of the few states that’s never had a line item for family planning services. So we really feel that this is a role that’s very important and something we do very well,” Thomas said.

But Republican state lawmakers want to change that.

A provision in the proposed state budget requires the Arizona Department of Health Services to apply for that same grant:

“THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES SHALL EMPHASIZE IN THE APPLICATION THAT THE STATE IS BEST SUITED TO RECEIVE AND DISTRIBUTE THESE FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES MONIES FOR THIS STATE.”

And if the state is awarded the grant, Planned Parenthood would lose its Title X funding.

Arizona law prohibits that money from going to an organization like Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions, even though federal law doesn’t allow any Title X funding to be used for that purpose.  

Jodi Liggett of Planned Parenthood said the “budget is bent on crippling women’s access to family planning resources.”

“Why you would want to exclude the nation’s largest and oldest provider of family planning services from a family planning program is curious,” Liggett said, noting the state has never tried to apply for the grant before.

But Arizona’s Republican House Speaker JD Mesnard said it has been his party’s policy in the Legislature to try to limit funding for Planned Parenthood.

A spokesperson for Gov. Doug Ducey said the provision wasn’t in his executive budget request and still needs to be reviewed.   

A recent executive order from President Donald Trump rolled back a rule finalized during the Obama administration that ensured states could not deny Title X funding for family planning services to qualified providers, even those that perform abortions. The order wasn't expected to have much impact on Arizona because that funding has historically gone to a nonprofit.

But if the state wins the grant instead, the proposal would effectively eliminate $2 million in funding for Planned Parenthood.

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