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GarCo yanks funding for local Planned Parenthood

Garfield County commissioners on Monday decided to eliminate $1,500 in grant funding for the Planned Parenthood clinic in West Glenwood over concerns about state and national politicking.
John Stroud | Post Independent

Citing what one Garfield County commissioner called “partisan emails” from political action groups advocating for Planned Parenthood, commissioners Monday eliminated 2016 grant funding for the local clinic.

“Our human services grant recipients are not supposed to be political, and this group is very political,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.

Jankovsky persuaded his fellow commissioners to pull $1,500 that was to go to Planned Parenthood’s Glenwood Springs Health Center next year as part of $432,500 in human service agency and program grants.

“I receive emails that I find to be very partisan, and very political, and I’m no longer comfortable with this organization,” Jankovsky said, referring to the political action group Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

“I understand how important Planned Parenthood has been for women’s health … but I have to take a stand on this,” he said.

Given the expansion of Medicaid and other changes in the health-care system in recent years, Jankovsky said women have other options to find the same services.

Funding for the local clinic has been controversial in recent years, mostly due to objections from anti-abortion activists.

As recently as 2012, the local clinic received $5,000 from Garfield County to support a range of reproductive health services for low-income women.

Concerns that some of that money could be going to support abortion services prompted the commissioners to eliminate funding in 2013. But the grant was reinstated the following year, on the organization’s word that the money would not be used to subsidize abortions.

Planned Parenthood received $2,000 in county grant funding this year, and was slated to receive $1,500 next year at the recommendation of the county’s Human Services Commission.

Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in an email to the Post Independent that she was disappointed in the commissioners’ decision and asked that they reconsider.

“Planned Parenthood is proud to provide high quality health care to women and their families in Garfield County, and we are discouraged to hear from a longtime funding partner that they will no longer support care for the patients who depend on us,” Cowart said.

“Our Glenwood Springs Health Center has been a recipient of this grant money in Garfield County for more than 30 years, with the money allocated towards our crucial cervical cancer prevention services,” she said.

In addition to cancer screenings, she noted that Planned Parenthood in Colorado also provides testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV testing, as well as contraception and abortion care.

“In order to do so, we depend on public funding and private contributions,” Cowart said, noting that the local clinic serves more than 2,500 patients.

“Planned Parenthood is committed to the people of Garfield County and will continue to provide compassionate, nonjudgmental care, proudly, to the people of Garfield County and the entire state of Colorado, where we serve over 80,000 patients annually,” she said in the emailed statement.

More recently, Planned Parenthood’s national organization has come under fire over allegations that some state chapters were engaging in fetal tissue trafficking. The national organization adamantly denies that.

Jankovsky also acknowledged that Planned Parenthood “does many good things, and has been very positive in what they have done here in Garfield County.”

“Because of the politics of it, I can’t continue to support it,” he said.

County commissioners, as part of their ongoing 2016 budget process, approved human services grants totaling $432,500 for 25 different organizations, at the recommendation of the county Human Services Commission.

The grant money is derived from a portion of the county’s 1 percent sales tax, which next year is expected to generate $470,000. Commissioners agreed to fund an extra $30,000 to bring the amount available up to $500,000.

The larger grants approved by the commissioners Monday included $42,000 for Mountain Valley Developmental Services, $40,000 for YouthZone, $35,000 for Mind Springs Mental Health counseling, $28,000 for Mind Springs Substance Abuse services, $34,000 for Family Visitor Programs, $30,500 for the Advocate Safehouse Project, and $28,000 for Literacy Outreach.


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