Feb 26, 2016 3:29 PM

Steinhauser: No letup in Hassan-Sununu dispute over Planned Parenthood

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Executive Councilor Chris Sununu says it’s “incredibly disappointing” that Gov. Maggie Hassan hasn’t re-allocated state funds originally destined for Planned Parenthood to other female health care providers.

The Democratic governor who’s running for the U.S. Senate scoffs at the contention from the Republican gubernatorial candidate that “overnight other providers can magically provide access” to some 12,000 women across New Hampshire.

Last August Sununu cast the deciding vote on the Executive Council against renewing two contacts for women’s health services. The vote came as a controversy was raging over the posting of a secretly recorded video of Planned Parenthood officials allegedly discussing the illegal sale of fetal tissue. The story enraged conservatives across the nation.

Sununu, who says he supports abortion rights and who had voted in favor of the previous contracts with Planned Parenthood, voted against the $639,000 in funding. He said it was time to “take a pause” to gather more information regarding the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood.

Earlier this year a grand jury in Texas found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood in that state’s fetal tissue program.

Speaking one-on-one with NH1 News earlier this week, Sununu placed blame with the governor.

“I’ve been pleading with this governor to put in state funding into all the options for women. It is incredibly disappointing that the governor would stand up and say that women shouldn’t have choices in their health care providers. It’s something I fought very hard for,” Sununu said.

“We have a lot of options in the state. Those state funds are just sitting there. They absolutely need to be released for more women’s health care providers. We’ve brought options to the table. I work with HHS. We brought those options directly to the governor. And she refused. I think this governor has a lot to answer for as to why she’s refusing to let that money come out and she’s insisting it only go to her political friends at Planned Parenthood. That’s not the New Hampshire way. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and most importantly it doesn’t help the women of this state. We have lots of choices out there for health care providers, and those providers should have access to those funds,” he added.

Hassan disagrees.

In an interview Thursday with NH1 News, the governor responded, saying “I was incredibly disappointed in Councilor Sununu’s decision to put politics in front of access to preventive and primary care for so many women in New Hampshire. Planned Parenthood provides basic health care to about 12,000 women across our state. And it won the contracts that Councilor Sununu voted against because it provides such excellent high quality care around things like cancer screening and family planning. So I was very disappointed that he voted to cancel those contracts.”

“I continue to think that we should be working with Planned Parenthood to find a way to make sure that 12,000 women who get coverage, who get care through Planned Parenthood, have access to treatment. To suggest that overnight other providers can magically provide access to 12,000 women for those critical specialized services, I think, really underestimates the value and importance of women’s health care and I’m very disappointed that Councilor Sununu put politics ahead of access to health care for these thousands of women,” Hassan added.

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