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Maryland Democrats Back Planned Parenthood Funding Bill

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Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch speaks at a news conference in Annapolis, Maryland, on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 in support of legislation to continue funding for services provided by Planned Parenthood. (Photo: AP) Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch speaks at a news conference in Annapolis, Maryland, on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 in support of legislation to continue funding for services provided by Planned Parenthood. (Photo: AP)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Maryland Democrats on Wednesday announced backing for legislation in the state to continue family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood, concerned the federal government will cut such funding in a Republican health care bill in Congress.
    
Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, said the proposed GOP health care plan could cut family planning services that help 25,000 women in the state. The Maryland measure would direct $2 million in the state's Medicaid budget to family planning, as well as another $700,000 from the state's general fund.
    
Supporters of the Maryland bill said Republicans in Washington were attacking Planned Parenthood out of opposition of abortion. They say the Maryland legislation will ensure funding is available for low-income patients who rely on the preventative care services offered by Planned Parenthood.
    
"We will not let the federal government mess up the state of Maryland," said Del. Shane Pendergrass, a Howard County Democrat who is sponsoring the legislation.
    
Karen Nelson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Maryland, said the federal bill threatens to affect some of the most vulnerable people in the country who count on Planned Parenthood for basic health care.
    
"This is not about abortion," Nelson said. "This is about basic preventative health care: well-woman exams, birth control, (sexually transmitted infections) testing and treatment. One in five women will seek out care at a planned parenthood during her lifetime, and for many patients is the only health care provider that they will see at all. Blocking them from coming to planned parenthood is just poor public health."
    
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who routinely criticizes legislative spending mandates, said the concern is something that could be addressed in next year's budget and "doesn't need to be mandated."
    
"We've had increases in all kinds of health services and, you know, it's probably just more politics than anything else," Hogan said.
    
For much of this year's legislative session, Democrats have been trying to link the popular Republican governor to the policies of President Donald Trump, who only received 34 percent of the vote in Maryland.
    
Planned Parenthood has 10 health centers in Maryland.

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