Planned Parenthood decries defunding bill

planned parenthood
Planned Parenthood's Sarah Stoesz, along with supporters and DFL lawmakers, critcizes a GOP-backed bill to defund her organization. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

Planned Parenthood officials say they would lose more than $4 million a year in government reimbursements under a bill moving through the Minnesota House.

The bill redirects family planning money from Planned Parenthood to other health clinics that don’t perform abortions. During a news conference Tuesday, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota President and CEO Sarah Stoesz accused House Republicans of aggressively attacking her organization and jeopardizing women’s access to health care.

“State and federal family planning funding is never used for abortion, never,” Stoesz said. “It is only used for preventative health care services like birth control, clinical breast exams, well-women exams, cervical cancer screenings and STD testing and treatment. People who qualify for these funds usually have no other funding source for their basic health care.”

Stoesz was joined by supporters, including two dozen DFL legislators.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are “really misguided and irresponsible.”

State Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Stillwater, is sponsoring the funding bill. She said it is needed reform. Lohmer said she wants to provide low-income women in rural Minnesota more access to health care.

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“There are many mothers out there who are truly in need, and my legislation seeks to help more of them by funding the organizations that are committed to the health and future well-being of these women and their children," Lohmer said in a written statement.

The House Health and Human Services Finance Committee

was scheduled to take up Lohmer’s bill during a Tuesday evening hearing.

held a hearing on Lohmer's bill Tuesday evening and laid it over for possible inclusion in a larger funding bill.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has already promised to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. In a letter last month to House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Dayton said the bill was a “blatant attack” on Planned Parenthood.

“I will not approve any bill that undercuts these critical services in Minnesota,” Dayton wrote.