Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Council leaves Planned Parenthood funding intact

Planned Parenthood is still in line to get $250,000 from the city of Albuquerque this year.

The City Council on Monday voted to keep the previously approved Planned Parenthood allocation in the city’s $1.4 billion budget, essentially rejecting Renee Grout’s attempt to shift the money to other purposes.

The debate over the funding drew more than 20 public speakers, prompted loud audience reactions that had Council President Isaac Benton threatening to clear the meeting chambers, and sparked impassioned commentary from Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn, who had sponsored the Planned Parenthood allocation the Council approved in May .

While much of the discussion centered around abortions and whether public money should help pay for them, officials clarified that the city’s contract with the organization would cover only certain health care services, such as breast exams, cancer screening and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

Fiebelkorn lamented the lack of abortion funding in the city’s contract, saying it was excluded against her wishes. But she said she believed that the city’s Planned Parenthood money is still going toward “things most normal people support.”

Grout had proposed taking the $250,000 away from Planned Parenthood to give it instead to the Barrett House shelter, which aids women and children experiencing homelessness.

Upon introducing the legislation in June, Grout had said in a statement that “Our response as a City to the current homelessness crisis is more crucial and urgent than supporting Planned Parenthood at this time.”

Grout, however, said very little during Monday’s debate even after Fiebelkorn blasted the proposal as “silly” and called it “unconscionable” for pitting two nonprofit organizations against each other.

“How dare we say we can only do one thing? We can only help women with reproductive care or we can help homeless people. That is insane,” Fiebelkorn said, adding that the city could do both.

In partnership with Councilors Trudy Jones and Klarissa Peña, Fiebelkorn sponsored a successful amendment to Grout’s bill that kept the Planned Parenthood allocation in place but also appropriated $100,000 to Barrett House and $100,000 to a community energy efficiency project.

After the amendment passed, Grout tried to table the bill but did not have sufficient support.

She ultimately voted against the legislation, which passed 5-4.

Benton, Pat Davis, Fiebelkorn, Jones and Peña voted for the bill that funded Planned Parenthood as well as the Barrett House and the energy efficiency project.

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Grout, Brook Bassan, Dan Lewis and Louie Sanchez voted against it.

Lewis had questioned why Planned Parenthood needed the money, saying it brings in millions of dollars every year.

“Did they approach you about this money?” Lewis asked Fiebelkorn. “Is this something you were passionate about? Is this an organization that’s helped you?”

Fiebelkorn responded that she is pro-choice and supports Planned Parenthood, an organization she has turned to for cancer screenings, contraception and STD testing.

“It is insane to say that $250,000 for this great organization won’t be spent in a really good manner,” she said.

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