Healthy Living: Local News
Planned Parenthood cut would affect Alaska women
Story Updated: Mar 28, 2011
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Ending federal spending for Planned Parenthood would end preventative care for thousands of women in Alaska, the group said.
The group runs clinics in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Soldotna and Sitka and provides family planning services around the state at a cost of about $3 million, the Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.
About 10 percent of the patient visits are for abortions — the issue threatening federal funding as Congress works on a budget. About 40 percent of the 11,000 Planned Parenthood visits last year were federally funded, including patients on Medicaid, said Clover Simon, the federal program administrator for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest. Federal money is not spent on abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger, she said. Abortions are paid for privately, through insurance, or through Denali KidCare, which is part of Medicaid and uses only state dollars to pay for abortions.
The new push in Congress would affect annual exams, birth control services, breast and cervical cancer screening, sexually transmitted disease testing, and a program intended to prevent teen pregnancies. "If you eliminate family planning and you eliminate Planned Parenthood's ability to provide services, what you are going to end up with is higher rates of abortion," Simon said. "Because people are not going to be able to access the family planning services they have been depending on."
In addition to targeting Planned Parenthood, the House budget bill would also eliminate family planning dollars provided separately through what's known as Title X. That program covers annual exams, birth control counseling, sexually transmitted disease testing, infertility issues, and screening for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. In Alaska, Title X grants go to the municipality of Anchorage and the state of Alaska, plus Planned Parenthood. The loss of that money would further squeeze efforts to serve low-income patients, the organizations say.
Planned Parenthood alone receives a $300,000 annual Title X grant for its clinics in Soldotna, Sitka and Juneau, Simon said. While Planned Parenthood has been holding rallies and running ads in an effort to hold onto the federal dollars, opponents are trying to make sure the money is cut from the federal budget. "Have You Told Congress To Stop Abortion Funding?" says a recent email sent out by Team Sarah, the conservative coalition formed in support of former governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Jim Minnery, president of the Christian group Alaska Family Council, says Planned Parenthood may provide some needed heath care services. "But overall those services can be provided through other organizations ... that aren't tied to the billion-dollar abortion industry, and aren't tied to this horrific history that has tainted them," he said.