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Bill may jeopardize family planning programs, abortion clinics

October 4, 2000

The State News

A bill that would give pro-choice family planning programs a secondary priority when it comes to state funding is before committee.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids, is awaiting approval from the House Committee on Family and Child Services. It has sat in the committee since late June.

The bill could make it to the House floor in the near future now that the Legislature has returned from recess.

The legislation would create a new act to have the Department of Community Health give priority in its allocation of funds to family planning programs, agencies and organizations that do not perform abortions or advocate abortion rights.

Judy Karandjeff, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of Michigan said their organization is aware of how the bill would possibly remove their funding.

“We have been opposed of this bill, and so far there is no hearing,” Karandjeff said. “The problem is if this bill goes through, 50,000 women would have no place for services.”

Pro-choice supporters like Emily Bridson, an academic specialist for the Lyman Briggs School, are also concerned with possible outcomes of the bill.

“I think this bill is bigger than just the abortion issue,” she said. “Planned Parenthood also sponsors men and women who don’t have insurance.”

More than one-third of Michigan women needing various services have used Planned Parenthood’s organization, Karandjeff said.

Right to Life of Michigan, a pro-life organization, favors the bill.

“We absolutely support this legislation,” said Pam Sherstad, the organization’s director of public information.

Ed Rivet, legislative director for Right to Life, said the goal of the bill is to divert funding away from programs offering abortion.

“The main priority will be to give the money to other groups first, and if there is no alternative, it will still go to organizations like Planned Parenthood,” Rivet said.

Other services offered by family planning programs include screening for sexually-transmitted diseases and breast cancer examinations, Rivet said.

“It’s really not the services that are the issue, it’s who is providing them,” Rivet said. “It’s simply a practical reality that we don’t like giving money to organizations that undermine abortion, or challenge parental consent for it.”

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