June 20, 2011; Source: Star Tribune | Planned Parenthood is closing six clinics in Minnesota. The reason is an 11 percent reduction in its budget attributed to Congressional hacking at the Title X program. The Planned Parenthood clinics to close – in Thief River Falls, Brainerd, Red Wing Owatonna, Albert Lea, and Fairmont – “did not perform abortions,” according the AP report, “but provided services ranging from contraception to cervical cancer screen for sexually transmitted diseases.” An irony is that Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was among the leaders to call for ending all Title X funding.

Taking a cue from the feds, the state of Indiana has been enforcing a ban on the use of Medicaid funds going to Planned Parenthood. As a result, Planned Parenthood in Indianapolis finally had to succumb and said it would no longer take Medicaid patients. Planned Parenthood had continued services to Medicaid patients after the state’s May 10 cutoff with the help of a $100,000 private grant, but that’s now used up, so 9,300 Medicaid patients will lose their access to family planning services. Indiana’s “social issue truce” governor, Republican Mitch Daniels, promised that Medicaid patients deprived of family planning services from Planned Parenthood would still get services elsewhere, though the mechanics for that were not clear in these articles.

Other states are taking the Indiana cue, such as North Carolina, whose legislature overrode Governor Bev Perdue’s veto of a state budget that would have denied Planned Parenthood state or federal funding.

For those who don’t know, Title X is part of the Public Health Service Act of 1970, providing family planning services to 5 million low income or uninsured women and men through a network of 4,500 community-based clinics. By law, Title X funds can’t be used for abortions as part of family planning services. But that didn’t stop abortion opponents in Congress from cutting $300 million from Title X in the FY2011 budget, the compromise budget negotiated between President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and House Speaker Boehner.

Is it any wonder that some women think that the conservatives’ attack on federal funding for Planned Parenthood – which cannot by law be used for abortion services – might appear like an attack on lower income women’s family planning and contraceptive needs?—Rick Cohen