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CQ Magazine examines conservative states' attempts to defund abortion providers

Conservative states are employing several different strategies to block abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, from receiving public funding, CQ Magazine reports.

States target public funding

According to CQ Magazine, several conservative states -- including Arizona, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin -- since 2011 have ended contracts that allocate public funding to Planned Parenthood or established new programs to avoid contracting with the organization.

Several other states -- including Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, among others -- are considering or have passed similar measures that would divert funding from Planned Parenthood. For example, a newly enacted Florida measure (HB 1411) directs federal funding for sexuality education and sexually transmitted infections away from abortion providers, while Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) recently vetoed a measure (HB 1090) that aimed to defund abortion providers and reproductive health clinics.

Wisconsin targets funding for abortion providers

CQ Magazine spotlights defunding efforts in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker last month signed a bill (SB 237, AB 310) targeting funding for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI). According to CQ Magazine, the state already cut certain public funding allocations for the organization in 2011 and 2014. Due to the ensuing closure of five PPWI clinics, 3,104 state residents in rural regions currently lack access to a nearby health care provider.

The new law requires the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to apply for federal Title X federal family planning funds that Planned Parenthood Wisconsin (PPWI) currently receives. If DHS wins the grant, it will be barred from contracting with abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood.

Claire Yunker, deputy communications director for Wisconsin DHS, noted, "Currently the department does not have the capacity to support a Title X project." DHS predicts the application process will cost the state about $1 million.

Separately, Nicole Safar, director of government relations for PPWI, said directing funding away from Planned Parenthood would not help patients access care. She noted that community health centers already face issues meeting demand for care. Further, she said the $3.5 million that PPWI stands to lose is "not even close to what is necessary to starting up a new health center or continuing to provide access."

Abortion providers in the South 'locked out' of Title X funding

Currently, according to CQ Magazine, Title X funding in 23 states is allocated only to the state health department. In another eight states, the majority of Title X funding is divided among the state health department and a Planned Parenthood affiliate, with the option of allocating some funding to other health care providers.

Title X funding allocation varies across states depending on political climate, CQ Magazine reports, noting that women's health care providers in Southern states are effectively barred from Title X funding. For example, CQ Magazine notes that Planned Parenthood Southeast (PPSE), which provides care for 17,000 patients annually in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, used to receive about $400,000 from the Fulton County Health Department in Georgia. However, PPSE CEO Staci Fox stopped applying for the funding after it was cut by the state in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Fox noted, "We've made a decision to not be reliant on those funds in the part of the country where the politics are not supportive of women accessing the health care they need." She added, "We don't feel like it's a good business decision to rely on funding that is not secure" (Evans, CQ Magazine [subscription required], 4/11).