Minnesota GOP seeks to defund family planning programs


Senate Republicans are working to defund family planning programs in Minnesota and prevent the state from accepting federal family planning dollars. The health and human services budget bill slashes money for programs that provide services to families either seeking to become pregnant or to prevent becoming pregnant. Those funds cannot be used to perform abortions or provide referrals to abortion services. The move mirrors a push by Republicans at the federal level to defund Planned Parenthood. Along with county public health departments, Planned Parenthood clinics in Minnesota are a major beneficiary of family planning funds.

The Health and Human Services Omnibus bill would repeal statute 145.925, which is the state’s family planning grant program. Those grants support county health departments, Planned Parenthood clinics and other community clinic throughout the state.

The omnibus bill not only stops funding for the state family planning grant program but also prohibits the state from accepting federal grants for family planning.

“The state shall not appropriate state funds or accept federal funds for family planning special projects or family planning services,” the omnibus bill states.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the Family Planning Special Projects Grants, one of the programs proposed for elimination, provided services to more than 40,000 people from July 2008 to June 2009. Counseling services were provided to 28,728 people, and 24,096 Minnesotans received exams, prescriptions and other medical services. Two-thirds of those people had income levels at the federal poverty line and 83 percent had incomes less than 200 percent of the poverty line.

The grant programs include birth control education and counseling, child-spacing counseling, screenings for breast and cervical cancer, community education events and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The program cost about $10 million last biennium and has been in place since 1978.

Also slated for elimination is the Minnesota Family Planning Program, a Medicaid State 1115 Waiver Program Demonstration Project. The federally supported program allows low-income women to enroll in a family planning health care program that covers the cost of contraception services, voluntary sterilization services, birth control counseling and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

In Montana, Republicans have proposed a similar policy of eliminating family planning, and they’re doing it because they don’t want money going to Planned Parenthood. At the federal level, House Republicans have proposed elimination of family planning dollars in a move to defund Planned Parenthood.

Neither the federal government nor Minnesota allow abortion services to be paid for with family planning funds.

The health and human services omnibus bill is currently being heard in committees, and could see a vote on the Senate floor this week.