Ritter Could Restore Family Planning Funding

The director of Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center is hoping a change in the governorship will bring a change in state funding for her clinic.

Susan Levy said it’s possible Bill Ritter will restore some of the family planning money BVWHC lost under Governor Owens – he and state health director Jane Norton in 1999 began denying state money to family planning clinics that provided abortions, even if the clinics could prove none of the money would be used for abortion services. As a result, BVWHC, which provides health and family planning services for the lowest income women in Colorado, has done without the $45,000 a year it previously received from the state. It is the only clinic in Colorado currently denied state funding.

The money was part of the Title X program, which includes both state and federal funding. Although denied the state portion, BVWHC still receives federal money through Title X. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains was also denied state funding under the new rules. However, Planned Parenthood has since opted out the Title X program entirely. That complicates BVWHC’s hopes having its state money restored.

That’s because during the campaign, Ritter said he would restore state funding to Planned Parenthood, but since Planned Parenthood no longer participates in Title X, Ritter would have to find a different way to get the organization money from the state. Levy isn’t sure how he would go about it – and if it would mean more money for BVWHC.

“He can’t do it through Title X if he thinks he’s going to fund Planned Parenthood because they don’t participate anymore,” Levy said.

She said Ritter might set up a grant that any clinic in the state could apply for, in which case BVWHC could have an alternate source of state money that didn’t come from Title X. Or, Ritter could lift the policy instituted by Owens in 1999 and restore BVWHC’s state Title X money.

Levy said she doesn’t think Ritter’s personal stance on abortion conflicts with BVWHC receiving state family planning funds.

“I think it’s really refreshing that someone who’s publicly anti-abortion can recognize the connection between providing family planning and preventing the need for abortion,” she said.

Levy is also concerned about federal Title X money now that Bush has appointed an anti-birth control, abstinance-only activist to head the federal program.