Topeka Gov. Mark Parkinson was urged Tuesday to veto a budget provision that would divert away from Planned Parenthood about $300,000 in federal funds for family planning services.
About 25 people rallied outside the Capitol and then delivered to Parkinson’s office a petition signed by 3,000 Kansans in support of birth control, sex education, family planning and emergency contraception.
Holly Weatherford, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said that without the funding, the organization’s clinic in Hays may have to shut down, and its clinic in Wichita will have to turn away women from getting basic health care services.
Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney, said the de-funding provision was an affront to equal rights for women.
“In order to have freedom, we need people to step up to the plate and say, ‘I’m not indifferent,’” he said.
Curt Brungardt, the stepfather of Jana Mackey, a Lawrence resident and avid women’s rights advocate who was murdered in 2008 by her ex-boyfriend, also spoke at the rally, urging a veto of the provision.
“What Jana taught me is that issues of women are all about equality,” said Brungardt, who is a professor at Fort Hays State University. The National Organization for Women also participated in the rally.
The proposal was put in the budget in the last moments of the legislative session by lawmakers who oppose abortion.
“There is simply no reason in the world why the taxpayer dollars of hundreds of thousands of pro-life Kansans should be used to underwrite abortion providers in this state, particularly those under criminal indictment and investigation,” said state Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, one of the authors of the budget provision.
Huelskamp was referring to a case filed by former Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline against Planned Parenthood in Overland Park that includes 107 charges of falsifying abortion records and performing illegal late-term abortions. Planned Parenthood denies the accusations.
Those at the rally noted that the federal funding at issue cannot be used for abortions. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park is the only one that does abortions, and it receives no share of those federal funds, Weatherford said.
But Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, urged Parkinson to allow the provision to become law, saying that it would redirect the $300,000 to public clinics and hospitals.
“Especially in an era of drastic funding problems for state hospitals and ‘safety net’ clinics, why in the world should a highly profitable private abortion business gobble up our tax money?” Culp asked.
Jeanne Gawdun, of Kansans for Life, said Planned Parenthood’s distribution of contraceptives encouraged sexual activity, and when the contraception failed, it resulted in more abortions.
“They’re in the business of selling abortions,” she said.
Weatherford, with Planned Parenthood, however, said the organization was a trusted provider of family planning and reproductive services. The group helps more than 10,000 low-income, under-insured and uninsured women per year in Kansas, she said.
Parkinson’s office declined to say what the governor would do about the provision. He received the budget bill on Friday and has until Monday to act on it.