FILE - PA DHS Secretary Teresa Miller 2-26-2020

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.

The Pennsylvania Department of Humans Services said Wednesday a $3 million budget increase for access to reproductive services will not subsidize abortion.

DHS Secretary Teresa Miller said the new line item will replace lost federal funding for Planned Parenthood and support access to contraception, cancer and STD screenings. Gov. Tom Wolf proposed the increase in his $36.1 billion spending plan earlier this month. 

“These providers already have to submit attestations that they separate all abortion services from other family planning services,” Miller told the Senate Appropriations Committee during a DHS budget hearing. “They keep these operations very separate, both financially and physically.” 

On Monday, a federal appeals court upheld the Trump administration’s rule that bans family planning centers who provide abortion referrals from receiving federal funding under Title X. Planned Parenthood dropped itself from the program last year, forfeiting $60 million, and several states have since stepped up funding to fill the gap.

Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, expressed concern about keeping the two sides of Planned Parenthood’s services separate, citing past misuse of state grants in other sectors. 

“It would be incredibly difficult to support a budget proposal that provides $3 million for abortion, but cuts $45 million from school safety,” she said.

Miller defended Planned Parenthood as a “trusted provider” that would not use the money for abortions.

“This funding will ensure that those who don’t have insurance or don’t have Medicaid will have access to services like contraception, cancer screenings and STD testing,” she said.

Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, applauded the governor for adding the funding into his budget proposal and notes that access to family planning services has reduced the rate of unwanted pregnancies.

“I think those numbers have been coming down, and I think providing those services is critical to that,” he said.

Staff Reporter

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania's General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.