Thousands of Granite Staters are rejoicing today as the New Hampshire Executive Council voted 3-2 to restore funding to Planned Parenthood.
Going into the vote, Councilors Colin Van Ostern and Chris Pappas were firmly supporting restoring the funding as they also voted against defunding Planned Parenthood last year. On the other side, Councilors David Wheeler and Joe Kenny were staunchly against it.
This left Councilor Chris Sununu to cast the truly deciding vote.
Ahead of the vote, more than 1,500 voters signed a petition urging the Executive Council to fund Planned Parenthood and a crowd of Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund supporters watched as the vote took place.
To the surprise of many, Chris Sununu voted “yes” to approving the contract, restoring funding to Planned Parenthood.
Sununu said in a statement after the vote that he originally voted against funding of Planned Parenthood last year because they “under investigation.” He said that now that Planned Parenthood has been cleared of any wrongdoing, “they should be treated like any other organization that comes before the council.”
“Today’s vote is a victory for women in New Hampshire,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “Restored funding to PPNNE will increase Granite Staters’ access to birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment. We are pleased that a bipartisan majority of the Council listened to their constituents and the majority of New Hampshire voters and chose to reverse course from last year’s vote. Blocking access to health care at Planned Parenthood threatened the wellbeing of Granite State citizens.”
“Finally, after nearly a year of New Hampshire women having less access to birth control, cancer screenings, and annual exams, today’s vote was a big win for the people of our state,” said Executive Councilor and Democratic candidate for Governor, Colin Van Ostern. “I’m proud of the thousands across New Hampshire who brought the grassroots pressure needed to flip this vote, and I promise to keep fighting — and to keep winning — for better access to health care for women and families every day.”
“Today’s vote was a victory for the thousands of women and men who receive care at Planned Parenthood health centers across the state,” said Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. “I’m hopeful we’ve put the divisive politics of the past behind us and will keep ideology out of the Council chamber on women’s health.”
“We must always promote health and economic security in our communities, and I will continue to speak up for the thousands Granite Staters who depend on basic access to life-saving health care,” added Pappas.
“Today’s vote is a critically important step forward for the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters,” said Governor Maggie Hassan.
“The fundamental right of women to access health care is essential to the economic security and vitality of our families, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England provides critical primary and preventive health care services to thousands of New Hampshire women, including cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing. This contract reflects our bipartisan agreement with the legislature to fund these critical family planning services through the budget this biennium, and I am pleased by today’s vote to support access to these critical health services for women and families across the state,” added Hassan.
“It’s troubling that women’s access to reproductive health care is still the subject of ideological and political attacks, and we must not let up in our fight to ensure that women and families have access to the important health services that are essential to the economic security and vitality of our families,” Hassan concluded.
“This is an important victory for the women and families of New Hampshire,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Despite threats and intimidation, Planned Parenthood of New England provides critical health care services to almost 13,000 women in the Granite State. Many of these women rely on the full range of health services offered at Planned Parenthood to get the care they need. Women in every part of our state deserve access to affordable reproductive health services and vital preventive care. After last year’s destructive vote to defund Planned Parenthood, I’m very relieved that the New Hampshire Executive Council has voted to right a wrong and prioritize women’s health.”
Some of the Democratic candidates for Executive Council used this opportunity to highlight the differences between themselves and their Executive Councilor opponents.
“Quality, affordable health care is the building block of a successful life and should never be subject to partisan politics,” said Dan Weeks, former Executive Director of Open Democracy and Democratic candidate for Executive Council in District 5. “I congratulate Republican Councilor Chris Sununu on joining Democratic Councilors Chris Pappas and Colin Van Ostern to return our state to its longstanding bipartisan tradition of investing in women’s health, even as my opponent Councilor Wheeler decided to again prioritize his personal ideology over the needs and wishes of his constituents. If I am elected Councilor in District 5, I will ensure that New Hampshire continues the vital tradition of supporting women’s health.”
“If our goal is protecting women’s health, reducing abortions and teenage pregnancies, and saving taxpayer money, this contract is a no-brainer,” Weeks said. “My opponent espouses a ‘pro-life’ and ‘fiscally-conservative’ position but his actions do not appear to bear it out, nor do they represent the wishes of his constituents. I urge Councilor Wheeler to stop playing politics with women’s health through his rejection of routine Planned Parenthood contracts and other gender-equity reforms.”
“Women shouldn’t have to beg those in power to place their needs before partisan political considerations,” said Beth Roth, candidate for Executive Council in District 3 seeking to succeed Chris Sununu. “Councilor Sununu made a reckless, foolish choice last year in voting down the Planned Parenthood contract. He made critical health care services inaccessible to thousands of women in New Hampshire.”
“Now that he’s felt political pressure from people in his district and around the state, he made the political calculation it is expedient to approve the contract. I applaud the fact he found it in his heart to reinstate these services, but NH women have the right to expect better from their Councilor. This kind of power politics has no place in a body such as the Executive Council, and underscores the reason I chose to seek the seat Councilor Sununu is vacating. We need people on the Executive Council who are serious about governance and understand what real New Hampshire women and families are going through,” Roth concluded.