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February 14. 2012 11:08PM

Lawmaker says feds did end-run on Planned Parenthood grants

CONCORD — A House committee is considering a resolution that would call invalid federal grants for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided grants directly to the organization after the Executive Council voted last year to refuse $1.8 million for five Planned Parenthood offices on the grounds the clinics provide abortion services.

House Concurrent Resolution 41 (HCR 41) urges “the United States Congress to find that the Department of Health and Human Services' grant to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is unconstitutional and void.”

Speaking before the House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee, resolution sponsor Rep. Daniel Itse, R-Fremont, acknowledged that the measure would not reverse the funding decision.

“It'd be an official statement that we take umbrage at you taking an end-run around the state's authority,” he said. “Among other things, it says ‘Guys, we are watching you.'” The resolution comes as Planned Parenthood increasingly finds itself in the cross-hairs of anti-abortion lawmakers, who insist that no public money should go to an organization that provides abortions, even if it offers other health services.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) has countered that abortions represent only a fraction its services — 3 percent — and that most of the public funding goes toward breast and cervical cancer screening, and family planning for low-income women and teenagers.

In January, the House passed a bill, HB 228, that would prevent the federal Department of Health and Human Services from entering any contract with any organization in the state that provides abortions. The bill has not been taken up in the Senate.

No representatives of PPNNE were present at Tuesday's hearing, and no one spoke in opposition to the resolution.

Ellen Kolb, legislative policy director for the socially conservative group Cornerstone Action, endorsed the measure.

“I think it's a good idea to go on record, to say the end-run the federal government took was wrong,” she said.


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