Sarasota County Denies unding to local Planned Parenthood Agency

12/12/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that a new lobbying tactic by conservative Christian groups focuses more on economic concerns than moral concerns. Opponents of abortion rights say that Planned Parenthood is flush with cash and shouldn't get taxpayer money while the economy is floundering.

In October, Sarasota County voted to cut the $12,500 allocation to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood gets about $335 million a year, a third of its budget, from local and state government grants and contracts. The agency provides services including contraception, sex education and non-abortion-related care for poor women and teenagers.

The organization is also the country’s largest abortion provider, which means that funding by local governments are often the source of controversy.

That’s been the case in Sarasota County for years. But despite that, County Commissioners over the past decade have supported funding its sex education programs. But not this year.

Abortion foes have long argued that taxpayer dollars subsidize abortion in Planned Parenthood clinics, and the agency has seen budget cuts across the country. Last month, the state of Georgia cut the group’s funding of $420,000.

During discussions about funding social service agencies in October, County Commisioner Paul Mercier made the motion to cut funding for the group, which already had seen its funding cut in half by the county’s Human Services Advisory Council.

Mercier said Planned Parenthood didn’t need the money considering their budget, estimated to be about $8 million dollars this year.

Sarasota County’s budget for social service agencies in the coming year is reduced over a million dollars due to the budget shortfall facing all counties in Florida.

County Commissioner Jon Thaxton also voted to cut funding. Thaxton says under the new rules, Planned Parenthood simply didn’t qualify this year.

But that was news to Wendy Grassi from Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

But despite the claims by Commissioners Mercier and Thaxton, Wendi Grassi from Planned Parenthood thinks the majority of Commissioners did succumb to pressure from pro-life, or as she calls them, anti-choice critics.

Recently the conservative Family Research Council announced that they are actively lobbying state legislators and city council members to defund Planned Parenthood at the local level.

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