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Endorsement in hand, Sara Gideon pushes $3M Maine taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood

Speaker Sara Gideon testifies in favor of a bill before a legislative committee.

AUGUSTA – On January 21, 2020, Speaker Sara Gideon received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood in her race to try and unseat Senator Susan Collins. The group has announced it plans to spend more than $45 million in the 2020 election. Last week, less than a month later, Gideon was testifying alongside a Planned Parenthood lobbyist on a bill to provide $3 million in Maine taxpayer funding to abortion clinics in Maine. The money is meant to replace funding lost after the groups refused federal funding in a dispute over federal rules around abortions.

According to the Associated Press, two Maine groups, Planned Parenthood and Maine Family Planning, withdrew from the federal program last year over a dispute related to using federal funds for abortions. Gideon’s bill would now replace the funding the groups stopped receiving from the federal government with state taxpayer dollars.

Discussing the loss of federal funds, Gideon testified that, “Due to the withdrawal of statewide grantee Maine Family Planning from the Title X/ National Family Planning Program over the Domestic Gag Rule, Maine’s family planning network faces a funding shortfall of nearly $2 million. This bill seeks to replace these lost Title X funds with state funds…”

“This care empowers Mainers to build the lives and families they envision, to decide when and whether to become a parent, and to pursue educational and career goals on their own timelines,” said Gideon in testimony to the Legislature’s Health Care, Insurance and Financial Services Committee.

But others disagreed.

“I have lobbied for Medicaid expansion, and for other health care funding because health care is a basic human right. However —this is NOT health-care. This bill negates a child’s human right to live: The Diocese strongly objects to this bill,” said Suzanne Lafreniere, testifying on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese.

“Simply put: Abortion funding restrictions save lives. Maine Family Planning is asking for reimbursement and ongoing funding of over $2 million Maine tax dollars a year due to its refusal to comply with the “Protect Life Rule.”‘ The’“Protect Life Rule,”proposes regulations similar to the “Reagan rules”that were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan,” said Lafreniere.

“These new regulations require physical and financial separation between Title X recipients and abortion providers. Under these new regulations, abortion centers cannot serve as Title X family planning centers and recipients cannot refer for abortion. Grantees must comply with state/local abuse reporting requirements.”

Hon. Karen Vachon from the Maine Right to Life Committee, took aim at Gideon’s bill as well.

“When you get under the hood of this bill, the title and the purpose is very deceiving. This is about replacing lost Title X funding. Abortion is not healthcare; it does not bear fruit,” said Vachon.

“Once upon a time, Bill Clinton advocated for abortions to be ‘safe, legal, and rare.’ Next thing you know, abortions became ‘a personal choice between a woman, her family, and her doctor with no government interference.’”

“Last session, this legislature passed LD 820 not only demanding that our tax dollars pay for elective abortions for women on MaineCare, but that private health insurance policies covering maternity care also pay for elective abortions. Today, the abortion lobby is all about ‘Loud and Proud: abortion on demand without apology,” Vachon told the committee. “This bill is over-kill. Taxpayers and health insurance policy holders have had enough. Please vote no!”

Gideon’s push to provide $3 million in Maine taxpayer funding to abortion providers follows her push last year to mandate abortions be covered at Maine taxpayer expense under Maine’s MaineCare (Medicaid) program, as well as mandating abortion coverage for all private health insurance coverage.

Gideon also successfully pushed through a bill allowing abortions to be performed without a doctor present.

Planned Parenthood has been active spending money in Maine elections in recent years, with just one state level PAC spending more than $1.3 million in State House and Senate races. That spending is dwarfed by the spending from Planned Parenthood’s national group, which spends millions each election cycle in races for United States House and Senate.

Speaker Gideon’s bill is still published on the Maine Legislature’s website with only two sentences saying it is a “Concept Draft pursuant to Joint Rule 208” and describing the general goal of the bill in one sentence.

However, Gideon provided the committee with a complete draft of the bill language on the day of her testimony, complete with the $3,053,505 price tag. Of that amount, more than $2 million would be an ongoing expense in future state budgets, and about $1 million would provide immediate cash to replace funds for the period from January to June 2020.

A 2017 report on Planned Parenthood’s pay structure revealed that Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, who has attended at least one event with Speaker Gideon, is paid almost $1 million per year. The regional CEO for the region covering Maine is paid about $215,000 per year.

The top twelve employees at Planned Parenthood’s national headquarters are compensated more than $4.7 million per year, and the average CEO compensation for regional affilliates is $237,999.

You can read the report on Planned Parenthood’s compensation structure by clicking here.

Speaker Gideon’s bill is L.D. 1613 “An Act Regarding Women’s Health and Economic Security.”

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