CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Activists and physicians told Nevada lawmakers Wednesday the future is bleak for reproductive health clinics for the poor if Republicans in the federal government move forward with plans to cut funds for family planning services.
Sen. Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, said Nevada should find a way to provide money for such services to make up for the loss of federal dollars.
Cancela’s proposal would have the state government solicit donations and alternative federal grants for local governments and nonprofit organizations like Planned Parenthood. The money could be used to help low-income Nevadans access birth control, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy testing and information on preparing for a baby.
Proponents provided no estimate of how much money it could deliver, but they argued the state must act to ensure women without health insurance can access contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies that could require government support or abortions.
“If a grant program goes away, we don’t have the funds to continue,” said Joseph Iser, head of the Southern Nevada Health District.
Federal funds currently bankroll at least 28 facilities in Nevada providing reproductive health services.
Anti-abortion advocates and Sen. Joseph Hardy, R-Boulder City, said they were concerned the state wouldn’t accurately track whether the funds provided to organizations like Planned Parenthood ultimately pay for abortion referrals or services.
Supporters arguing that there’s significant need for the services pointed to a 2014 report by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that promotes abortion and birth control access, which found 194,430 women in Nevada needed publicly supported contraception. That number includes people on government-subsidized insurance and does not describe how many women could not find, afford or physically get to reproductive health services.