Federal Title X funding for Planned Parenthood should be on the chopping block, Bevin says

08/05/2015 08:57 PM

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin is injecting controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood into this year’s campaign, pledging to halt federal Title X dollars from reaching the group’s Kentucky branches.

Planned Parenthood has been the subject of a series of undercover videos published by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, representatives of which posed as medical researchers interested in obtaining fetal organs and tissue.

The Center for Medical Progress claims the videos prove Planned Parenthood officials sell fetal parts for profit, which is against federal law, but Planned Parenthood says the recordings have been edited to misconstrue remarks from its officials and deceive the public.

The matter has riled Republicans in Congress, with a procedural vote on a bill stripping federal funding for Planned Parenthood failing 53-46 in the Senate on Monday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted against the measure, but his office has said doing so allows him to bring the issue back for another vote.

Bevin, in a statement on Wednesday, seized on the national debate, pledging to defund Planned Parenthood in Kentucky.

“As Governor, I will direct my Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services not to distribute federal taxpayer dollars from that department to Planned Parenthood clinics,” he said.

“Federal taxpayer dollars appropriated to Planned Parenthood flow through the Governor’s administration. As Governor, I will prevent those dollars from being distributed, and order them returned to the federal government.”

That would amount to about $331,300 in federal Title X family planning funds, according to figures provided by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The cabinet does not contract with Planned Parenthood, but local health departments can either provide Title X family planning services directly or subcontract with Planned Parenthood, rural health clinics or federally qualified health centers, cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said in an email to Pure Politics.

The campaign for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway, whose 2002 congressional campaign received $5,000 in contributions from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund political action committee according to Federal Election Commission filings, did not respond to phone and email messages seeking comment on Bevin’s statement.

Planned Parenthood officials warned that Kentucky families would be put at risk if federal dollars are withheld from the organization, which by federal law cannot perform abortions with public tax dollars.

Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, correlated the recent spike in HIV cases in Scott County, Ind., with the closure of a Planned Parenthood facility in Scottsburg, Ind., in 2013, saying the shuttered clinic had provided HIV testing and education.

The group currently operates health centers in Louisville and Lexington, where more than 4,700 patients were seen last year, she said.

“Banning federal funding for Planned Parenthood would have a devastating impact on women, men and families — especially those in medically underserved communities and with low incomes — for preventive care, including Pap tests, breast and testicular cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, and annual wellness exams,” Cockrum said in a statement to Pure Politics.

“We encourage elected officials to focus on measures that will protect — not jeopardize — preventive health care for their constituents.”

Ben Hartman, Bevin’s campaign manager, argued that although Planned Parenthood cannot perform abortions with public dollars, the use of Title X dollars allows it to free up private money for the procedures.

“Planned Parenthood, as you’ve seen from the recent videos, is an organization that has serious problems and is facing a huge moral crisis,” he told Pure Politics.

The Kentucky House Republican caucus issued a letter on Monday also calling for an end to funding for Planned Parenthood.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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