Topeka The battle over funding of Planned Parenthood, which was recently waged in the federal government shutdown debate, is also being fought at the state level.
The Kansas House and Senate have approved two different budget plans for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The House plan includes a provision that eliminates the pass-through of federal family planning funding to Planned Parenthood clinics.
The Senate budget plan doesn’t have such a proposal. Legislators return from their break to reconvene the session on April 27.
Abortion opponents succeeded in putting the proposal in the House plan because they say taxpayer funds shouldn’t go toward paying for abortions.
“Americans don’t want their taxes to help an immoral business,” said Kathy Ostrowski, of Kansans for Life. Opponents of Planned Parenthood say the funds should go to other local health clinics.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri say taxpayer funds are not used to fund abortions. It has long been illegal to use what are called Title 10 funds for abortions.
Planned Parenthood officials say the funds at stake -- approximately $335,000 -- go toward getting low-income women needed health care services, such as breast exams, Pap smears, cancer screenings, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, and birth control.
These services help women avoid unintended pregnancies, they say. “It makes absolutely no sense to eliminate access to preventive Title 10 health services that reduce the need for abortion in Kansas,” said Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
Planned Parenthood says the funding is crucial to support Planned Parenthood health centers in Wichita and Hays, which according to a recent study serve nearly 9,000 women per year. No abortions are conducted at either one of those clinics. Planned Parenthood also points out that the Hays clinic is the only one for low-income women in Ellis County.
The rider diverting the funds from Planned Parenthood has been approved by the Legislature several times in recent years, but has been vetoed by former governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson, both Democrats who supported a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
Gov. Sam Brownback, an abortion opponent who recently signed into law two bills restricting access to the procedure, said he wasn’t familiar with the provision in the House bill, but added that he has never been in favor of federal funding going toward Planned Parenthood.