ACLU Opposes Attempt to Silence Planned Parenthood

December 13, 2001

Today the Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation to undermine family planning and contraception services provided by pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood.

The ACLU of Michigan opposes this effort to silence pro-choice groups.

"Increasingly, the actions of the "Right-to-Life" movement show that their goal is not simply to limit access to abortions, nor is it merely to outlaw abortion, but rather, its goal is to outlaw abortion and to block access to and use of contraception as well," said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. "Right-to-Life's insistence on the passage of House Bill 4655, is an open attempt to destroy Planned Parenthood."

While the bill does nothing to limit abortions or money being spent on abortions because the funding dollars in question are absolutely prohibited from being used for abortions, it will limit access to family planning information and contraception.

The bill would primarily impact family planning grants established under President Nixon and used to support low income health care and family planning clinics (Planned Parenthood is one of only a few organizations that have shown an interest in providing the required services). It would require these grants be offered first to anti-choice providers and that any organization that supports a women's right to choose be moved to the back of the line. Those organizations whose only pro-choice activity is having a written policy that considers "elective" abortion (those performed for any reason other than to prevent the woman's death) as part of family planning or reproductive health services are considered too extreme to be allowed equal consideration with anti-choice organizations. An organization whose public advocacy in favor of abortion rights goes beyond a written policy and actually involves endorsement of candidates, lobbying, or participating in lawsuits moves even further down the list, as do organizations that perform or allow abortions in their clinics or even refer a pregnant woman to an abortion provider (an activity which is required under the federal law creating the family planning grants that would be effected by the bill).

"The bill will have an enormous impact on low income women, said Moss. "It will require the State to give preference to an unknown organization when doling out health care and family planning grants. This preference would be based not on a commitment to health care or family planning or its ability to meet the needs of the community, but would instead be based solely on its animosity towards a woman's right to choose."

House bill 4655 will hold thousands of this state's citizens to Right-to-Life's anti-choice agenda. It may well be unconstitutional for the state to allow to conditional receipt of funds that are dependent upon whether or not a group provides or expresses support of a legally protected health care procedure.

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