On September 15, the New Hampshire Executive Council voted four to one to eliminate funding for three family planning centers that provide 80% of the non-abortion services under the New Hampshire Family Planning Plan. These services include: annual exams, birth control, cancer screenings, disease testing, and sexual abuse counseling.
This vote to defund affects over 10,000 New Hampshire women, many of whom are low income. Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette has stated that this vote will negatively impact women’s health across the state, unintended birth and teen birth rates, and birth outcomes.
Some of the Council members used the possibility of funds being used out of compliance with state/federal law as their reason for denying the funding. This false claim was refuted by the legislatively mandated audit completed and presented by the Department of Health and Human Service that confirmed that no Family Planning Program provider used state or federal funds for abortion care, and that all were in compliance with state and federal regulations.
While Governor Sununu said he disagreed with the September 15 vote, he campaigned for the councilors who voted to defund and did not try to persuade them to his view.
Andover’s Executive Councilor, Joe Kenny, was one of the four voting to defund health care for New Hampshire women. Also on September 15, Republican Executive Councilors, in a three to two vote, rejected the use of over $20 million in federal funds available under the American Rescue Plan to increase vaccination efforts.
Most voters do not realize the impact their vote for an Executive Councilor has on their lives, or what exactly an Executive Councilor does. They confirm contracts, judges, State agency commissioners, and unclassified employees, and have oversight of infrastructure plans. Their decisions last long after their terms are over.
For a good summary of what is happening in New Hampshire, check out a recent InDepthNH article by Gary Rayno at InDepthNH.org/2021/09/19/recent-events-are-a-defining-moment-in-nh.