Politics

A Senate committee on Thursday approved a bill that would allow state government to reduce funding for Planned Parenthood in Kentucky.

State Sen. Max Wise, a Republican from Campbellsville, said until the U.S. has a “pro-life” president, states should restrict funds to Planned Parenthood as a way to restrict abortions.

“We’ve got a large number of constituents that want to see something done with Planned Parenthood,” Wise said.

Planned Parenthood in Kentucky does not provide abortions but can refer women to abortion providers.

The bill would restrict Planned Parenthood’s Title X funds, which are federal grants that go to family planning and reproductive health programs.

To retain funding for other programs that receive Title X grants, the bill would set up a “tiered” system where lawmakers would be able to prioritize funding between local public health departments (the top-tier), “non-public entities” and Planned Parenthood (the lowest tier).

“When it goes to Planned Parenthood, it would be lesser as it goes down the tier,” Wise said.

The state receives about $5.6 million in Title X funds; roughly $331,000 of that goes to Planned Parenthood.

Derek Selznick, of the ACLU of Kentucky, said public health departments are also required provide information about abortions as a condition of receiving Title X funds.

“It’s very clear with federal funding that Title X service providers, including our public health departments, must refer and counsel for abortion services if the woman requests it,” Selznick said.

The bill comes in the wake videos from anti-abortion organization Center for Medical Progress, which last year released hidden-camera footage of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has challenged the validity of the videos, saying they were highly edited.

The committee also approved a bill that would make selling fetal tissue a Class C felony.

The Planned Parenthood bill is a top priority for the Republican-led Senate. The Democratic-led state House has been unfriendly to anti-abortion legislation in recent years, but the chamber has warmed up to pro-life issues in recent weeks.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo was noncommittal on the Planned Parenthood bill.

“We’ll look at it when it gets over here,” Stumbo said.

Texas and Ohio have adopted multi-tier policies for distributing Title X funding.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.