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New budget would bar payments to Planned Parenthood


The Legislature has sent Governor Rick Snyder the new state budget, including a provision that attempts to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

Snyder and the Legislature disagree on the provision, which could lead to a showdown on whether it will be enforced.

The provision in the budget would require county health departments to favor family planning clinics that don’t also offer abortions. State law already forbids the direct use of public money funds for abortions, so this would apply to money for services unrelated to terminating a pregnancy.

“We’re encouraging them to explore other options to provide those services, and not just Planned Parenthood, which also is an organization which provides abortions,” says state Senator David Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

But the Legislature’s gesture may be symbolic, says Governor Snyder’s press secretary, Anna Heaton.

“We’re concerned that portions of the boilerplate language are unconstitutional,” she says.

That’s because the budget provision could be in conflict with a different state law that already governs how family planning money is distributed.

The provision is not subject to the governor’s line-item veto power, but the governor could issue a signing statement that the administration will not enforce it.

Of course, Republicans in the Legislature don’t see it that way.

“We don’t agree with their concern that it’s unconstitutional,” says Hildenbrand, “so at this point, we’re planning to present it to the governor and then he can take a look at it and make a decision after he reviews it.”

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan issued this statement:

This is a targeted attack on the patients who choose Planned Parenthood for access to basic preventative health care like STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings and contraception. We agree with the Governor’s office that this is unconstitutional and therefore should be considered unenforceable. There is already a law in place that gives priority to organizations that do not provide abortions. Even with that, in 2017, Planned Parenthood served 45,823 patients in the Title X Family Planning program -- nearly 70% of the total client caseload in Michigan. This budget would block access for patients who use Planned Parenthood for their reproductive health care and family planning needs. This is a policy introduced for political gain and at the expense of Michigan’s women and families -- they deserve better.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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