(The Center Square) – New Hampshire's congressional delegation is urging president Joe Biden to swiftly finalize a repeal of Trump era policy that blocks funding for abortion providers to offset a loss of state funding for reproductive services.
Rules put in place by then-President Donald Trump in 2019 prohibit any group that provides or refers patients for abortions from receiving federal funding through Title X to cover services such as contraception, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and other reproductive services for low-income people.
The Biden administration plans to scrap those rules, but Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and other members of New Hampshire's all-Democrat congressional delegation said women's health providers in New Hampshire desperately need that funding now to offset a loss of state funding cut by the GOP-controlled Executive Council.
In a letter to acting Budget Director Shalanda Young, Shaheen and other New Hampshire lawmakers urged the Biden administration to move quickly to rescind the rules.
"Until the Title X program is restored, providers who withdrew from the program are unable to access traditional Title X dollars and supplemental family planning funds designed to provide emergency relief," the lawmakers wrote. "This is particularly problematic for providers in New Hampshire who are in immediate need of support."
The lawmakers noted that about $50 million in federal grants will be available to states through the American Rescue Plan Act to support family planning programs.
"Unfortunately, the use of these funds is required to comply with the current Title X program regulations, which include the Title X Gag Rule," they wrote.
In addition to Shaheen, Sen. Maggie Hassan and U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas signed the letter to Young.
The request follows a Sept. 15 vote by New Hampshire's Executive Council to defund Planned Parenthood and two other women's health care providers.
The four Republican councilors who voted against the funding cited to commingling of state and federal funding in organizations that provide abortions with the other women's reproductive services.
State health officials have pointed out that all of the providers were in compliance with state and federal law and none use state or federal funds for abortion services.
The controversial move drew criticism from Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, the state's Democratic legislative leaders and women's medical and health groups.
The three organizations that lost funding as a result of the council's vote provide about 80% of the women's services in the state, according to Planned Parenthood.
"Further delay in the approval process will result in prolonged funding shortfalls for family planning providers and limited access to vital health care for Granite Staters," the lawmakers wrote. "We urge OMB to expeditiously approve the Title X rule change to prevent further damage to the reproductive health care and family planning systems in our state."