Regional Planned Parenthood funding in jeopardy

Health care officials in the North Country say federal funding for Planned Parenthood is in jeopardy.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the 2011 continuing resolution along party lines over the weekend - a bill that includes major cuts to a variety of federal programs and services.

Included in that legislation is a budget resolution that eliminates Title X, which guarantees family-planning services for low-income women. That federal measure provides some $317 million for family-planning nationwide and about $75 million for Planned Parenthood offices across the country.

Planned Parenthood of the North Country - which is based in Plattsburgh and serves communities in Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties - serves nearly 14,000 patients.

Kathie Wunderlich is president and CEO of the North Country branch. She says the GOP majority is "radically out of step" with mainstream America, adding that the weekend's vote does "noting to reduce the deficit."

According to Wunderlich, defunding Planned Parenthood would result in job loss in northern New York and take away health care access for women who "can't afford to pay for it on their own."

Planned Parenthood of the North Country provides more than 17,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections annually, as well as some 6,000 cervical cancer screenings and upwards of 8,000 breast exams.

Wunderlich adds that defunding Planned Parenthood would also take away affordable cancer screenings, birth control, and HIV testing for the thousands of patients the program serves.

She notes that anti-abortion advocates will see an increase in unwanted pregnancies if funding for Planned Parenthood is stripped.

"It is difficult to understand why people who say they are opposed to abortion would do so much to undermine the family planning and contraception that helps prevent the need for it," Wunderlich said.

The amendment passed by the House over the weekend was proposed by Representative Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana.

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