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Council to take stance on Planned Parenthood

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

Planned Parenthood funding may be a national issue, but City Council will likely weigh in on it this Thursday when it considers endorsing federal spending for the women’s health organization in the city’s federal legislative agenda. Council will also consider endorsing an increase in access to and state funding for a “full spectrum of health services” in the city’s state legislative agenda.

Based on a conversation at a work session on Tuesday, there seems to be substantial support among Council for moving forward with the resolution that would make the changes. Not everyone, however, appears to be on board with stating support for Planned Parenthood in particular.

Council Member Ellen Troxclair said that she supports the broader statement about health services in the state but not the language that refers directly to Planned Parenthood.

“I know women’s health care is a hot topic. And I don’t want to get into an ideological discussion, because we probably already have strong opinions about it, and I’m not sure that we’re going to change each other’s mind,” Troxclair prefaced.

Council Member Ann Kitchen, one of the sponsors of the resolution, responded. “The reason I think it’s appropriate is because that’s the way it’s discussed at a federal level,” she said. “For better or for worse – and we may have different opinions about this – but at a federal level, the legislation is being discussed specifically to defund Planned Parenthood.”

“I think it would be great for us to express support for providing a wide range of options for women and not specifically to focus funding into one particular entity,” Troxclair reiterated.

There is an effort within the U.S. Congress to end the allocation of federal funding to Planned Parenthood, and the effort is fueled, in part, by an opposition to the organization’s policy of providing abortions among its services.

Mayor Steve Adler disclosed that he and his wife, Diane Land, are supportive of Planned Parenthood and “help fund” the organization. He then pointed out that the item had not gone to a Council committee and was posted on Friday. He requested that the Council Transition Work Group consider in which situations it is appropriate for items to bypass the committee process.

Although Adler said the resolution might be an example of an item that can appropriately bypass the committee structure quickly, his comment steered the conversation in a new direction.

“I’m respectful … if some feel uncomfortable and (are) wanting to postpone this to the next meeting, but I do believe that will not change a vote on this issue,” responded Council Member Delia Garza, who crafted the resolution. “I think it’s timely, I think it’s a big issue and I think it’s an opportunity for this Council to make a statement.”

The resolution has five sponsors – one short of what is needed for it to pass.

Council Member Don Zimmerman agreed with Garza’s assertion that delaying a vote would not change the ultimate outcome but said that he would not be supporting the item.

Council Member Greg Casar, also a sponsor, responded. “Given that admission, I just think we should vote on it, and some folks will vote yes and some folks will vote no and it’ll pass.”

Troxclair also agreed that postponing the vote would not change it and said that she plans to propose an amendment to the resolution on Thursday. “There’s eight references to Planned Parenthood in this resolution, and I think that we could make a broader policy statement that accomplishes the same goals without talking specifically about funding one particular entity.”

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