Obama Administration Circumvents N.H. Executive Council

by Michael J. New

In response to the New Hampshire Executive Council’s decision to cut of taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood, the Obama administration announced last week  that they would oversee the awarding of family planning contracts in New Hampshire. This means that that there is a good chance that New Hampshire Planned Parenthood affiliates will recover the $1.8 million in taxpayer funds that they previously lost.

Here is some background. This summer, the New Hampshire state legislature approved $1.8 million in state funds for Planned Parenthood. However, New Hampshire, unlike many other states, has an Executive Council which oversees state contracting. The Executive Council usually stays out of controversial issues. But this summer, the Executive Council overturned the decision of the state legislature and blocked state funding for Planned Parenthood. Three of the five members of the Executive Council thought it was inappropriate for the state to be subsidizing an organization that performs abortions.

However, the heavy handed response of the Obama administration — effectively nullifying New Hampshire decision —  should come as no surprise. This summer, Indiana decided to cut off Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood, reducing taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood anywhere from $2 to $3 million. The Obama administration responded by telling the state it could not implement the new law. Specifically, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick stated that “Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider’s scope of practice.” The Obama administration filed a lawsuit and a judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring Indiana to continue Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.

So far this year, six other states including Kansas, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have cut funding to Planned Parenthood, saving taxpayers over $60 million. These states should be applauded. But overall, the Obama administration’s actions show that pro-lifers would do well to renew their push to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level.

— Michael New is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute.

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