Committee passes Planned Parenthood measure

Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK -- State Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, speaks Wednesday on his measure that would put Planned Parenthood operations in Louisiana under more scrutiny.
Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK -- State Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, speaks Wednesday on his measure that would put Planned Parenthood operations in Louisiana under more scrutiny.

Legislators on Wednesday approved two resolutions putting Planned Parenthood operations in Louisiana under scrutiny by state and local officials.

“This is really about opponents of women’s health singling out a health care provider, who thousands of working people trust, and using the Legislature to advance inappropriate legislation for their own political agenda,” said Julie Mickelberry, of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Inc., after the two resolutions were overwhelmingly approved. “This is part of larger national attacks on Planned Parenthood that, I think, goes well beyond abortion.”

Legislative resolutions urge and request, but don’t require, actions from local and state governmental agencies.

In House Resolution 105, the full House, on a 90-4 vote, urged the state Department Health and Hospitals to immediately suspend all grants and reimbursements — about $1 million annually — pursuant to its Medicaid provider agreement with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

A similarly worded resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 57 asked DHH, the Division of Administration, the legislative auditor and the Office of the Inspector General to review and monitor the practices of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast “to determine whether the organization is in compliance with all state and federal laws and regulations ...”

Earlier Wednesday, the House Health and Welfare Committee quickly advanced SCR57 without a dissenting vote. It now moves to the House floor.

In addition, both resolutions request that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast applications for economic incentives be denied by state agencies.

The resolutions come as Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast broke ground on a $4.2 million health center in New Orleans, where abortions will be provided. Previously, the preventive health provider has not performed abortions in Louisiana.

State Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe and who handled both resolutions, said Louisiana is the No. 1 “pro-life” state “and we are proud of that.” He said the resolutions “helps strengthen that honor.”

Hoffmann also handled, during the House debate, Senate-passed legislation that added further restrictions on abortions. Senate Bill 90 would ban pregnancy terminations involving telemedicine and would require an obstetrician to be present when using medicine to induce the procedure.

The House approved SB90 on a 98-3 vote late Wednesday.

State Rep. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte, said abortion is a bipartisan issue among Democrats and Republicans who “really feel strongly about taking a life.”

House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman state Rep. Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs, said all one has to do is look at the votes in the House and Senate on the abortion issues “and you take politics right out of it.”

Planned Parenthood supporters held a news conference prior to the House Health and Welfare Committee meeting and full House vote on the Planned Parenthood resolutions.

“We are here today to call on the state legislators to stop playing politics with the health care of Louisiana women and families,” Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana state director of Planned Parenthood, said at the morning news conference.

She said legislators are being influenced by politics and out-of-state interests in rejecting Medicaid expansion as well as resolutions that attempt to further restrict women’s access to family planning, cancer screening and other health care services through Planned Parenthood clinics.

Flournoy was joined by Dr. Julie Finger, a New Orleans pediatrician; Dr. Holley Galland, a Baton Rouge family medicine physician; and Carmen Weisner, state director of the Association of Social Workers, who talked about the health care services Planned Parenthood provides at low cost.

Finger said Planned Parenthood can help reduce the 58 percent of unintended pregnancies in Louisiana with family planning services.

Planned Parenthood has worked every day for 30 years to improve women’s health through cancer screening and well-women exams, Galland said.