By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Without discussion, the Executive Council approved 10 family planning services contracts for the next two years – including one for Planned Parenthood – to cover reproductive health services across the state.
The issue has not always been so free of controversy as it was on Wednesday. District 5 Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli, who replaced David Wheeler on the council, an ardent opponent of Planned Parenthood, said she didn’t expect the same issues as in the past when the council refused to sign over concerns they provided abortions at taxpayers’ expense.
The contracts do not allow for such free services but provide for reproductive health care for about 3,075 individuals who are expected to need care through June 2021.
“It used to be an issue, but look at the council,” said Pignatelli, a Democrat, whose party enjoys a 3 to 2 majority.
The contract calls for $3.8 million to be spent, 52 percent of which is federal funds for family planning services at Mascoma Community Health Care, White Mountain Community College, Planned Parenthood of NH, Joan G. Lovering Health Center in Greenland, Equality Health Center in Concord, Concord Hospital, the Community Action Program for Belknap and Merrimack counties, Manchester Community Health Center, Lamprey Health Center in Nashua and Coos County Family Health in Berlin.
“Partnering with health centers in both rural and urban settings ensures that access to affordable reproductive health care is available in all areas of the state,” the contract reads. “Family Planning Program services reduce the health and economic disparities associated with lack of access to high quality, affordable health care.”