John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen CO Colorado

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December 18, 2012
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Garfield County nixes Planned Parenthood funding

GLENWOOD SPRINGS - Garfield County commissioners voted 2-1 Monday to remove $5,000 in funding for the Planned Parenthood health clinic in Glenwood Springs from a list of two dozen grants to local human-service agencies for 2013.

"This is one that I just have to take a stand on," Commission Chairman John Martin said in calling into question a continued Planned Parenthood grant that was recommended by the county's Human Services Commission.

"They're a big national organization, and I think they have enough outside resources without using money that could benefit some of the local organizations whose budgets are smaller," Martin said. "I understand they do a good job. ... This is not an insult. I just think they need to stand on their own."

The Planned Parenthood grant was just one of more than $430,000 in human-service grants recommended to the commissioners for next year. The grants come from a dedicated human-services sales tax fund approved by county voters several years ago.

All of the recommended grants, except Planned Parenthood, were approved at the Garfield Board of County Commissioners' regular meeting Monday in Glenwood Springs.

Although Martin's stated objections to the Planned Parenthood grant centered on fiscal concerns, the commissioners have heard from several anti-abortion activists over the past year who also objected to the county's support for the local clinic.

Among the many women's, men's and teen health and family-planning services offered by Planned Parenthood is information about and access to abortions.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky clarified that none of the county's past grant funding for Planned Parenthood has gone to abortion services.

Jankovsky sat on the six-person grant-review committee and was the only member of that committee to vote against the Planned Parenthood grant recommendation during that group's deliberations, he said.

That was partly because of the constituent concerns on the abortion issue, he told the Post Independent following Monday's decision.

However, when the question came before the board Monday, he voted to uphold the grant committee's recommendation.

"We did look at this and discussed it, and I did vote against it," he advised his fellow county commissioners. "But I feel like I need to stand behind our committee's decision."

Commissioner Mike Samson joined Martin in voting to pull the Planned Parenthood grant.

The decision came as a surprise to Rebecca Murray, manager of Planned Parenthood's Glenwood Springs health center.

"This is certainly disappointing news for us," she said. "We have consistently relied on this funding from the county since 2002 and feel like we have been a trusted community partner for a decade."

According to the grant requests submitted to the Human Services Commission, the local Planned Parenthood clinic has an annual expense budget of about $800,000.

The loss of $5,000 from Garfield County represents about 5 percent of the local health clinic's approximately $100,000 local fundraising effort, Murray said.

She said the county's grant funds have served local residents by helping to provide family-planning services, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and education.

Of the more than 100 patients accessing those services in 2011, Murray said 77 percent fell within 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

"None of this money goes to the provision of abortions either directly or indirectly," Murray also said. Only money from donors who request that their money go to abortion services is budgeted in that manner, she said.

"The residents of Garfield County will feel the effect of this, including clients in need who rely upon our services the most," Murray said. "This will mean fewer options to help patients get the care that they need."

The county commissioners agreed to keep the $5,000 that would have gone to Planned Parenthood in reserve for any additional human-service grant requests that are made during the coming year. Those requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 18, 2012 07:05AM Published Dec 18, 2012 12:21AM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.