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By Rose Hoban
Buried in page 163 of the 429-page final state budget bill is a seven-line provision limiting the use of state funds for “family planning services, pregnancy prevention activities, and adolescent parenting programs.” The provision doesn’t say the words “Planned Parenthood,” but that was the organization in the sights of budget writers, because the group also provides abortions.
If the state budget is passed and signed into law, Planned Parenthood will lose funding for programs in Fayetteville and Wilmington that have helped teens avoid getting sexually transmitted diseases, encouraged them to delay sexual activity and helped teen moms get through high school.
Melissa Reed, vice president for public policy for Planned Parenthood of the South Atlantic, said she had expected some targeting of her organization in the final days of the legislative session, but wasn’t expecting these particular teen-health programs to be in the crosshairs.
“The Adolescent Parenting program [in Wilmington] is fantastic,” Reed said of the program that’s been running for close to 16 years. “We work with teen moms. They’re already parenting, and we help them make choices to delay having a second child. We also provide them with case management so they can juggle the demands of parenting and high school.”
Planned Parenthood also offers a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative program in Fayetteville. It receives $135,000 in state funding for the two projects.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has been targeted at the federal level this summer after the release of doctored videos that purport to show organization officials discussing selling fetal organs.
So Reed said she expected some kind of backlash on the state level.
Planned Parenthood no longer receives funding from the state government for family-planning activities and the organization hasn’t gotten any state funding for abortion services in years.
“Both programs have always been competitive, and our evaluations have been overwhelmingly positive,” Reed said. “We’ve had such a great relationship with the state and a proven track record.
“That’s the reason the state keeps funding us to do this.”