MLIVE: Michigan House conservatives fight Planned Parenthood family planning grant

GG_official_House_photo_II.jpgLANSING, MI — Conservatives in the Michigan House are calling on a state board to reject a funding grant for Planned Parenthood to provide low-cost family planning services in Detroit, including birth control and pregnancy testing.

State Rep. Gary Glenn and 27 other lawmakers, in a letter to the finance and claims committee of the State Administrative Board, asked members to vote against the $10.1 million grant requested by the Department of Health and Human Services.

"It is the conscience of the House that tax dollars should not fund abortions, and Planned Parenthood is the biggest provider of abortions in the United States," state Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, said Thursday.

"We believe that this proposed action violates the spirit, at least, of the budget language we adopted earlier this year opposing any use of tax dollars for Planned Parenthood."

The Michigan budget, as modified by the House before passage, includes language prohibiting MDHHS from entering into a state-funded family planning contract with an organization that provides elective abortions or referrals.

The requested grant would not fund abortion services, and MDHHS spokeswoman Jennifer Eisner said the proposal does not involve any state dollars.

"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.

The contract was previously held by a company called IPH that was not able to meet minimum family planning and contract requirements for renewal, according to Eisner.

MDHHS is requesting an amendment to award the grant to Planned Parenthood, "which will keep the family planning services in the area." The request includes a $1.2 million increase to reflect higher local revenue or projected third-party payments, Eisner said.

Michigan lawmakers seeking to block the grant "may not completely understand" it, according to Lori Carpentier, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.

"An any rate, we're doing important work in the City of Detroit, where there's an amazing need," she said. "...We have some momentum and are eager to meet the needs of city dwellers. Absent that, I'm not sure who would take the grant."

A portion of the grant will come from the Maternal Children's Health Fund, according to Glenn. While that's ultimately restricted federal money, he suggested the state could decide whether to spend it on the Planned Parenthood grant.

Additionally, Glenn said conservatives in the House are exploring the possibility of directing more federal funding to county health departments instead of Planned Parenthood.

UPDATE: The proposed Planned Parenthood grant was pulled from the finance and claims committee agenda on Tuesday prior to a planned vote.

MDHHS spokesperson Jennifer Eisner said that the contract abstract "incorrectly noted that the amendment involved state restricted funds when what's true is that all dollars are federal or from other local revenues. No state dollars were used to support the amendment."

The grant request will be resubmitted, she explained in an email.

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