DURHAM, N.C. — One of the battles won by the conservatives who took over the North Carolina Legislature this session was stripping Planned Parenthood of its funding.
But it is turning out to be a short-lived victory. The women’s health organization has successfully applied for federal funds and will soon receive more than three times the amount Republican lawmakers had withheld.
“We’ve weathered these increasing attacks on women’s health care access the past couple of years,” Paige Johnson, vice president of external and governmental affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, said Tuesday. “Now we’re able to do more for our patients.”
The GOP strategy to defund Planned Parenthood would be considered more symbolic – by law, federal money can’t be used for abortions – than substantial if it wasn’t for its direct impact on the women’s health clinic in Durham.
The amount legislators cut, $125,000, was a sliver of the $20.2 billion state budget, but losing it meant that Planned Parenthood’s clinic in North Durham would have to close. That clinic doesn’t handle abortions; it provides contraceptives, pap smears and breast exams and does testing for diabetes, high cholesterol and sexually transmitted diseases.
Now, with $426,000 in what is known as Title X funding, the Durham clinic expects to see a fourfold increase in patients, to about 2,000 a year, said Emily Adams, vice president of operations. Adams said the funding dispute was a close call.
“We have patients who have been coming to us for over a decade,” Adams said. “When they turned to us and we didn’t have sure resources, that’s where it really hits.”