Budget cuts may affect family planning clinics


MISSOULA, Mont. - Developments in the state legislature have some worried that family planning clinics could be hit hard.

What happened Monday afternoon will likely lead to a showdown between Democrats and Republicans.

We learned from our affiliate station in Helena that Democrats want to restore $4 million to the state's main budget bill. That money had been cut earlier by a budget subcommittee because some of the funding goes to clinics run by Planned Parenthood which provides abortions. 

A Democrat from Missoula pushed back, but her amendment to get the money back in the budget died by one vote in the House Appropriations Committee.

The debate over federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood has continued for years.  It was a similar situation two years ago when the Montana House voted to remove nearly the same amount of funding but then the Senate voted to put the money back in.

This time around House Bill 2 didn't make it that far.  Republicans opposed the bill saying it goes against federal regulation, or Title X, which says federal money cannot be used to provide abortions.

Some public health officials told NBC Montana that funding cuts will affect health centers that don't even perform abortions.

We talked to with Representative Champ Edmunds (R-Missoula) who sits on the House Appropriations Committee. He told us they are looking at ways to separate funding for clinics that do and do not perform abortions.

"Right now we're taking steps to figure out how to fund organizations that provide for women's health care that don't provide abortions, without funding ones that do," said Edmunds.  "There are many people out there that feel like their tax dollars funding an abortion is not the use they want to see of their tax dollars."

Edmunds tells NBC Montana House Bill 2 still has to go through the Montana House and the Senate before it gets to Gov. Steve Bullock's desk, but supporters of the bill tell us they're hopeful Bullock will veto House Bill 2 if the $4 million for family planning clinics isn't restored.

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