Three councilors protest Planned Parenthood deal
CONCORD — A conservative Christian legal organization representing three members of the Executive Council wants the federal government to terminate a contract awarded to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England for family planning services.
The Colorado-based Alliance Defense Fund filed an official protest with the U.S. Department of Human Services and the federal Government Accountability Office on behalf of councilors Dan St. Hilaire, R-Concord; Ray Wieczorek, R-Manchester; and David Wheeler, R-Mason.
Last month the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $1.1 million, family-planning contract to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England after the Executive Council voted down a family-planning contract with the organization in June.
In the protest, the ADF attorneys write “the Grant by HHS was improper, irregular, unnecessary, in contravention of the authority of the Executive Council and its duly elected members, and in disregard for the sovereignty of the State of New Hampshire.”
The protest also claims the contract award violates both the Public Health Service Act and federal acquisition regulations.
The three councilors who voted in June to oppose the $1.8 million PPNNE contract said it would in effect subsidize abortions with taxpayer money which they oppose.
The state Department of Health and Human Services was unable to find other agencies willing to provide the family planning services and returned the grant money for the PPNNE contract to the federal government.
On Sept. 13 the U.S. DHHS awarded “a non-competitive, urgent replacement grant to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.”
The protest claims the executive councilors were led to believe by state DHHS commissioner Nick Toumpas that the federal government would go through a competitive bid process.
Wieczorek said Friday the councilors discussed what to do after the federal agency announced the no-bid award to Planned Parenthood.
“We decided to pursue this right after we found out the long arm of Washington came in to contravene the decision we made, and David (Wheeler) pursued it,” Wieczorek said. “We’ve got a constitution in this country — the 10th amendment — we have state’s rights.”
Wheeler could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
After the council voted down the contract, Toumpas worked to find replacement services, but was unsuccessful and the money returned to the U.S. DHHS.
“I guess nothing is sacred in this country. Washington wants to run everything and obviously they don’t run it very well,” Wieczorek said.
St. Hilaire said he was contacted by ADF about signing the letter. “The legal counsel contacted us and said they wanted to file a letter and asked us to sign off on it,” which he did, he said.
Councilor Raymond Burton, R-Bath, who supported the PPNNE contract, said the councilors filing the protest did not talk to him about their action.
He said he has eligible citizens in his council district who need the services provided under the contract and if this is the only way they will receive these services, then that is the way to go.
“It’s over and done with and we should just let it be,” Burton said.
Colin Manning, Gov. John Lynch’s press secretary, said, “These are important services for women in this state and the governor believes it’s a good thing these services are available statewide.”
He said when the council decided not to accept the federal funds, it was expected the federal government would go ahead and do this to ensure these important services would be available.
On its website, the ADF says it is “a servant organization that provides the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel through the legal defense of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, marriage and the family.”
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