SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert has ordered all state agencies to stop funneling federal funds to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.
The federal government provides grants to Planned Parenthood that are distributed through the Utah Department of Health. Utah law already bars any organization from using state funds for abortions, and that prohibition extends to Planned Parenthood’s federal grants, Herbert said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Herbert’s order came in response to the release of secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group showing Planned Parenthood officials describing how they provide fetal tissue from abortions for medical research.
“The allegations against Planned Parenthood are deeply troubling,” Herbert said.
The governor noted that other government agencies and nonprofits will still provide education and prevention programs for sexually transmitted diseases.
Karrie Galloway, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah executive director, slammed the decision Friday evening.
“To be perfectly honest, I’m appalled that the governor is making policy decisions according to news reports of allegations — without looking at Planned Parenthood’s 50-year history in the state of Utah,” she said, “and the fact that we have never erroneously used any state or federal money outside the rules.”
Galloway added that she understands and appreciates that no state money can be used for abortions.
“The money he is talking about is for education,” she said. “It’s federal money that we applied for through a [request for proposal] with the state health department to do evidence-based programs to reduce teen pregnancy. We celebrated those numbers going down about six months ago. Eliminating Planned Parenthood from participating in that is not the right move.”
According to numbers released by the governor’s office, Planned Parenthood’s budget for fiscal 2015 includes about $100,000 for STD testing and reporting, $115,000 for “abstinence education and personal responsibility education” and $1,339 for providing pregnancy tests and STD screenings to victims of rape and sexual assault.
Galloway further called Herbert’s decision “purely political.”
“It doesn’t make any sense other than the fact that he’s a GOP governor,” she said, “and the GOP wants to defund Planned Parenthood.”
Republicans around the country have targeted Planned Parenthood after several videos were released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress.
The center said the videos showed Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood said the organization receives legal payment only for the cost of the procedure and requires a mother’s consent before the tissue is given to researchers.
Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, also found the governor’s decision “unfortunate.”
“We’re reacting to political propaganda,” Romero said.
She added that abortions are only a small part of what the organization provides, including contraceptive services, family planning, and screenings for STDs and cancer.
When Romero was young, she said, Planned Parenthood was her only resource for health care, since she didn’t have insurance.
“It’s a great resource for our community,” she said.
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