Durham, NC – Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina (PPCNC) filed suit today in federal district court in Greensboro seeking to prevent the enforcement of the Planned Parenthood defunding amendment passed as part of the North Carolina budget during the 2011 legislative session. The North Carolina legislature passed a state budget that denies Planned Parenthood state and federal funds used to subsidize family planning services and provide teen pregnancy prevention programs, despite a veto by Governor Bev Perdue.
“This budget may target Planned Parenthood, but the men, women and teens of North Carolina are the ultimate victims of this discriminatory legislation,” said Janet Colm, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina. “This is the first time in North Carolina’s history that a single health care provider has been carved out in the budget and banned from applying for competitive grants from the state.”
Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina is arguing that the defunding amendment, which singles out Planned Parenthood as the only organization ineligible to continue to receive these family planning funds in North Carolina, violates federal law and the constitutional rights of Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina is being represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), as well as attorneys from WilmerHale and Raleigh-based lawyer Jack Nichols, in the lawsuit against the state.
“As we have done in Indiana and Kansas, we have filed this litigation to protect our ability to provide these vital health care services to the men, women, and teens who rely on us,” said PPFA Senior Staff Attorney Helene Krasnoff. “This budget provision, like in those other states, is contrary to federal law, impermissibly penalizes Planned Parenthood, and has the effect of restricting North Carolinians’ access to health care.”
In the fiscal year that ended in June 30, 2011, PPCNC provided health family planning and reproductive health exams to almost 7,000 women, which included 1221 pap smears and 1,206 breast exams. In addition, this past fiscal year, PPCNC provided approximately 8,289 tests for sexually transmitted infections, as well as other medical services, including 57 colposcopies to detect cervical cancer following an abnormal Pap test.
Roughly 70% of the women and men served by Planned Parenthood of Central NC lack the health insurance to cover their care. Many patients would have nowhere else to turn for quality affordable care. In addition, the restriction further stretches North Carolina’s already over-burdened health care system. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, North Carolina has the 7th highest shortage of primary care providers in the country.
North Carolina has the 14th highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, and teen childbearing costs North Carolina taxpayers more than $392 million each year. By eliminating Planned Parenthood as a subsidized family planning provider, patients may be forced to delay life saving cancer screenings and family planning services. Furthermore, teens in Cumberland County will be at even greater risk of unplanned pregnancy.
Currently, Planned Parenthood receives approximately $212,000 in federal and state grants and programs. These funds are used only to provide preventive healthcare services such as breast and cervical cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, teen pregnancy prevention, and affordable contraception. None of these funds are used to provide abortions.
In a recent survey, 57% of North Carolina voters opposed the effort by the North Carolina House to prohibit state funding to Planned Parenthood.
“Not only is this bill bad policy, but it’s also bad politics,” added Colm. “We hope the court will work to protect the people we serve, and will ensure that Planned Parenthood can continue to receive state and federal funding to assist us in providing critical health services to North Carolina women, men, and teens.”