Online donations double amount of pulled Planned Parenthood grant
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky leads effort to pull Planned Parenthood grant over “political” emails.
2016 human services grants
Advocate Safehouse - $30,500
Alpine Legal Services - $20,650
CASA of the Ninth - $2,600
Catholic Charities - $20,000
CMC Go 2 Work - $4,000
Columbine Home Health - $23,500
Early Childhood Network - $12,500
Family Visitor Programs - $34,000
Feed My Sheep homeless ministry - $27,000
High Country Retired Seniors Volunteer Program - $7,000
Hospice of the Valley - $10,000
LIFT-UP poverty assistance - $28,000
Literacy Outreach - $19,500
Mind Springs Mental Health - $35,000
Mind Springs Substance Abuse - $28,000
Mountain Valley Developmental Services - $42,000
Reach Out and Read Colorado - $1,500
River Bridge Regional Center - $10,000
River Center of New Castle - $6,000
Roaring Fork Family Resource Center - $5,000
Early Learning, Raising a Reader - $2,250
Salvation Army - $11,000
Sopris Equine Therapy - $3,000
Yampah Teen Parent Program - $8,000
YouthZone - $40,000
TOTAL : $431,000
A decision by the Garfield County commissioners to cut grant funding for the local Planned Parenthood clinic over concerns that the state and national organization has gotten too political prompted sharp reaction Tuesday, much of it opposed to the move.
One local Planned Parenthood supporter from Carbondale started an online “GoFundMe” campaign aimed at doubling the $1,500 that was cut Monday as part of the county’s 2016 Human Services grants. That effort had succeeded, raising $3,590 by 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“Planned Parenthood has been pretty influential in my life, especially before I had a career and health insurance,” organizer Ashley Johnson said. “A lot of us in the community felt strongly that this is such an important cause.
Jaime, a Glenwood Springs native now living in Denver who did not want her last name used, said she, too, was disappointed in the decision to end county grant funding.
“Planned Parenthood helped me and all my friends through tough times in the valley. This organization saves lives,” she said. “The reality is that there are no other options for a young woman without money to take care of her reproductive health.
“Defunding Planned Parenthood will return the valley to teen pregnancies, more single moms and poverty,” Jaime said.
A Post Independent story about the county’s decision prompted numerous comments, and the story was widely shared on social media.
Most comments expressed something between disappointment and outrage, though some have been supportive of the commissioners’ decision.
“It is a very polarizing issue,” acknowledged County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who led the move among his fellow Republican commissioners to eliminate the grant for next year.
Jankovsky said he fielded numerous phone calls and emails, both supportive and questioning the rationale behind the decision.
The grant to Planned Parenthood’s Glenwood Springs Health Center was part of a package of more than $432,000 in grants to various human service organizations and programs recommended by the county’s Human Services Commission.
The $1,500 that was to go to Planned Parenthood was a reduction from its $2,000 grant this year.
Overall, it pales in comparison to some of the larger grants to other, mostly local organizations that exceed $30,000, so the move was mostly seen as a political statement.
Jankovsky said he has become increasingly concerned over what he said were “partisan, political” emails in recent months from a state lobbying group, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, often aimed at Republican lawmakers.
Cathy Alderman, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood’s political lobbying affiliate, explained that the nonprofit Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which operates the clinics and does community outreach in the state, relies on both private and public funding and cannot engage in political activity.
The Votes Colorado group is the separately organized political action arm that does focus on political issues.
“Planned Parenthood has been in the news a lot lately, and it has become political,” Alderman said, adding she also does some education outreach work for the nonprofit organization.
The political action group “gives us a voice to speak to some limited electoral activities,” she said.
Besides its longtime critics who oppose abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood clinics, the organization has come under fire more recently over allegations that it sells fetal tissue at a profit.
State and national affiliates of the organization have adamantly denied those allegations, and fact-checking groups have said videos were edited in a way that distorts the conversation about covering costs for providing fetal tissue to researchers.
But the concerns have led some Republicans in Congress and at the state level to call for ending all taxpayer support for the organization.
Planned Parenthood provides a wide range of low-cost reproductive health-care services for low-income women and teens.
In addition to cancer screenings, which the county grant was to support, Planned Parenthood provides testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, as well as contraception and abortion services.
“So much of what we have heard from Planned Parenthood and its supporters is that they are they only organization providing these types of medical services here,” Jankovsky said.
But, with the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, there is broader access to those types of services elsewhere, including other low-income clinics such as the Mountain Family Health Centers in Glenwood Springs and Rifle, he said.
“It’s not that those services aren’t available,” Jankovsky said.
Alderman said she was surprised at the commissioners’ decision to pull grant support over politics.
“Our members depend on us to give them accurate and relevant information on political issues,” she said. “We would be letting the community down if we didn’t speak up about issues as they come up.”
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