MANCHESTER — U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, all Democrats from New Hampshire, hosted a virtual press conference Monday with representatives from N.H. family planning providers that will be affected by the N.H. Executive Council’s recent vote to terminate contracts for family planning providers across the state. Participating in the press event were representatives from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Equality Health Center of Concord and Lovering Health Center.
Monday's press event followed the delegation’s letter to the Biden administration on Friday calling for the swift distribution of supplemental assistance directly to providers impacted by the Executive Council’s decision.
“I never thought I would see in New Hampshire — in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state — the action that we have seen from the Executive Council and the Legislature to attack women’s reproductive health,” said Shaheen.
“Let’s be very clear: This is not about abortion. There is no public funding that goes to abortion. So, for all of those people who claim this is an effort to reduce abortions, that’s just wrong," the senator said.
"This is about providing health care for women and families who really need it and most of them don’t have any other options to get their health care. And sadly what we’re seeing now is that this decision means that for many of those women and families, they’re going to have difficulties getting the care that they need,” Shaheen said.
Sen. Hassan noted: "Family planning centers, including Planned Parenthood, are a major source of vital, high-quality care, including for cancer screenings, birth control, HIV and STI tests, and counseling services. That is why the Executive Council’s decision to discriminate against these providers and to block vital investments in health care is so dangerous and wrong.
"I will continue to support women's access to reproductive health care services and fight for funding for Planned Parenthood and family planning providers,” Hassan added.
Rep. Kuster said: “The N.H. Executive Council’s dangerous decision to terminate multiple contracts for family planning services, effectively defunding critical health-care access for our most vulnerable citizens, threatens the health and well-being of countless Granite State women and families.
“Safe access to reproductive and preventive care including birth control, STI treatment, and cancer screening for our residents is essential, and this misguided attempt to defund abortion services — which already did not receive public funding — undermines women’s constitutional right to make their own reproductive decisions," said Kuster.
"I will continue working with N.H.’s congressional delegation and family planning providers to ensure every Granite Stater has access to the reproductive care they need and combat the consequences of this move,” she added.
Rep. Chris Pappas said, “Like people across New Hampshire, I'm truly outraged that a majority on the New Hampshire Executive Council has again rejected family planning contracts. We've seen this play out before and each time it has not been about what's best for women and families, but about politics.
“As someone who's sat on the Executive Council, I've considered these contracts in the past. I know how crucial these funds are to provide basic services," Pappas added.
"The councilors who voted to defund our family planning providers have refused to listen to the facts, and they've put their own extreme political views ahead of what's best for women and families in our state. We have to do all we can to make sure that our providers can continue to offer this care that people across our state depend on, and I’m committed to fighting at the federal level to safeguard the right to choose and access to reproductive health care.”
Voting Sept. 15 to defund family planning providers were Joe Kenney (R-Wakefield), Ted Gatsas (R-Manchester), David Wheeler (R-Milford) and Janet Stevens (R-Rye). In opposition to defunding them was Cinde Warmington (D-Concord).