Governor’s office ‘reviewing options’ on budget strike to Planned Parenthood

By EMILY LAWLER, Walker, Mich.

LANSING, Mich. (TNS) — The budget lawmakers approved Tuesday includes language diverting state funding away from health care groups that also provide abortions, something critics say targets Planned Parenthood and Gov. Rick Snyder’s office is scrutinizing.

At issue is part of “boilerplate,” language in the budget that directs departments more specifically on how to spend line-item appropriations. A newly-added section prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from contracting for family planning and pregnancy prevention services with an entity that also provides abortions if there is an alternative organization in a given county that does not provide abortions.

“Our office is reviewing options for how to handle boilerplate language we think is not enforceable under the state constitution,” said Anna Heaton, spokesperson for Gov. Rick Snyder.

She declined to say publicly which portion of the constitution the provision could run afoul of.

Snyder, a Republican, has departed from many in his party on abortion issues. Early in his tenure he vetoed a bill on abortion insurance, and last year he vetoed a bill that would have allowed fundraising through a “choose life” license plate. He didn’t get Right to Life’s endorsement in his first or second gubernatorial campaigns.

Senate Appropriations Chair Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, said the budget item reflected pro-life values.

“This is an issue, a philosophical issue among members of the legislature who believe in life… and this is an opportunity to invest in organizations that will do more in terms of advancing the pro-life cause of protecting the unborn. And that’s where that language came from,” Hildenbrand said.

He said the services would still be made available through a different organization.

He acknowledged there was a possibility it could get line-item vetoed.

That’s an option Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said he hoped the governor would pursue.

“That was a big problem, there’s no question about that. I mean the governor seems to have continuously not supported that concept, we took a bit of a risk that the governor would hopefully veto that,” Ananich said.

But that’s not actually an option, according to Snyder’s office. Heaton said the governor “cannot line item veto something that is in boilerplate.”

The state constitution allows the governor to veto “any distinct item or items appropriating moneys in any appropriation bill,” nixing a small part and allowing the rest to become law. But the boilerplate language isn’t a line item appropriating money, just a stipulation on how money can be used.

Lori Carpentier, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said in a statement Tuesday there is already existing law giving priority to organizations that do not provide abortions.

“This is a targeted attack on the patients who choose Planned Parenthood for access to basic preventative health care like STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings and contraception. We agree with the Governor’s office that this is unconstitutional and therefore should be considered unenforceable,” Carpentier said.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing supports the change. She said in a statement Tuesday there is already a law giving priority to non-abortive facilities and it’s not been enforced.

“For 16 years the state law has been ignored. We’re happy the Legislature is taking this opportunity to make sure our law is followed,” she said.

She doesn’t agree that the language could be unconstitutional.

“We think the governor has been given bad information. Our state’s law is clear, and the budget simply requires MDHHS to follow the law,” Listing said.

The $56.8 billion budget passed the House and Senate on Tuesday. It heads next to Gov. Rick Snyder, who must sign it for it to become law.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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