Officials in nearly a dozen Republican-led states, including Arizona, Kansas and Indiana, have cut at least some funding for the group since 2011, when Democrats rejected a high-profile effort by congressional Republicans to block federal grants for the group.
In several cases officials targeted federal money that they are responsible for disbursing.
For example, in Shelby County, Tenn., officials revoked a federal family-planning grant for a Memphis Planned Parenthood and instead gave it to a Christian nonprofit organization. And in Texas, the state government barred groups tied to abortion providers from getting public funds, affecting all 49 Planned Parenthood centers that received such money.
And on Friday, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction in Arizona, blocking a new law that bars Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving money through the state to provide medical care because the organization also performs abortions.
In New Hampshire, North Carolina and Tennessee, clinics were able to recoup at least some of the money by appealing directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But the arrangements have deepened a concern raised by critics and supporters alike — that Planned Parenthood has become so embroiled in partisan politics that its mission to provide health care and family planning services to women is threatened.
“The good news is, the health and rights of women are center stage in the American political debate today,” said Jill June, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which includes the three affected clinics in Oklahoma. “The bad news is, the health and rights of women are center stage in the American political debate today. . . . It’s distracting. We are having to defend ourselves when what we want to do is provide services to people.”
Planned Parenthood has found itself at the center of the presidential election, with President Obama mentioning the group five times during Tuesday’s debate at Hofstra University. Obama, who is counting on women voters to help him win reelection, noted that Republican challenger Mitt Romney promised to cut federal funding for the group.
“There are millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just contraceptive care,” Obama said. “They rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings. That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country.”