All white dude council

New Hampshire’s Planned Parenthood Defunded Because White Men Know Best

This post was originally published on the Community site.

Continuing the trend of white men having a lot to say about women’s health care, three Republicans on the New Hampshire Executive Council removed state funding from New Hampshire’s Planned Parenthood on Wednesday over the objections of the state’s pro-choice governor, Maggie Hassan. This leaves thousands of their constituents at risk of losing vital services, and it makes New Hampshire one of the three states to remove funds from the organization this week.

All white dude council

(Voted to defund: Kenney, Sununu, Wheeler)

So how did this fairly obscure entity manage to override a sitting governor? The answer is rooted in New Hampshire’s longstanding distrust of centralized authority. The Executive Board, which arose out of the state constitution as a check on gubernatorial power, approves members of boards and commissions, judicial appointments, and state contracts. And, since all of the members of the Council are male, this effectively means that the only female Democratic governor has to share power with a bunch of dudes.

Three of these men are very concerned about the manufactured scandal that is Planned Parenthood legally donating fetal tissue. So following Governor Hassan’s refusal to honor demands for an investigation of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s fetal tissue donations (the entity doesn’t even participate in a voluntary tissue donation program), the Republican Councilors rejected a $640,000 contract that constitutes a third of the budget for the state’s five Planned Parenthood clinics.

While this move was ostensibly meant to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide abortion services, the dollars from the general fund that were at issue were not being used for abortions. Instead, the actual effect of this decision will be the decimation of other services that Planned Parenthood provides such as birth control, health education, cancer screening, and STD testing and treatment.

Christopher Sununu, one of the councilors who voted to defund Planned Parenthood, summarized the stakes best on Wednesday:

“In my district — I represent about a quarter-million people — Planned Parenthood is the only option.”

On this count, Sununu is absolutely correct, and life is about to get a lot harder for vulnerable women in his district. New Hampshire is set to go the way of Texas, which defunded Planned Parenthood in 2011. Since then, the number of women served by family planning clinics declined 25% as nine out of 32 family planning clinics closed their doors. These closures and cuts in services have been devastating to women of color, immigrant women, and low-income women who have had to delay or forgo treatment due to cost.

All in all, the New Hampshire Executive Council reminds us ladies that when it comes to making decisions about your health care, ask men first.

Dudes testifying

A manel testifies on birth control.

Alyssa Peterson serves as a Campaign Coordinator for Know Your IX, a national survivor-run, student-driven campaign to end campus sexual violence.  

Alyssa Peterson serves as a volunteer Campaign Coordinator for Know Your IX.

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