RALEIGH, NC (NEWS RELEASE FROM THE ACLU) -– The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina today criticized the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners for voting Monday to reject a state grant that would have funded reproductive health care and family planning services for women.
“It is truly shameful that the New Hanover County commissioners refused nearly $9,000 in state funds that could have provided essential reproductive health care services to women through doctors’ visits, medication, and comprehensive family planning,” said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Most American women use contraception at some point in our lives in order to plan responsibly, and for many of us, contraception can also aid with other medical conditions,” Rudinger continued. “Unfortunately, many low-income women and young women do not have reliable access to contraception. The state funds the County rejected could have provided these women with medical care they cannot otherwise afford or access. The state offered this money to the County without any strings attached and without any increased burden on taxpayers. The commissioners’ decision to reject this funding is appalling.
Had the five men on the Board bothered to consult any women or reproductive health experts beforehand, perhaps they would have seen the error of their ways. Indeed, Commissioner Jonathan Barfield told WWAY-TV that after talking to his wife about the issue, he realized he was wrong to vote against accepting the funds. It is not the duty of elected officials to judge anyone’s lifestyle or medical needs. Rather, they should seek to better the welfare of the people they were elected to serve. In this case, they failed miserably,” Rudinger concluded.
In an email sent today, Chairman Ted Davis requested to have the Health Department's funding request be on the next meeting's agenda. Here's what Davis wrote to County Manager Bruce Shell:
"After very serious consideration and conferring with my fellow County Commissioners, I am instructing County Manager Bruce Shell to put the Health Department's request to spend $8,899.00 in State funding for IUD purchases on the regular Agenda for the April 2, 2012 County Commissioner meeting which will begin at 6:00p.m.
The Health Department will be expected to give a thorough presentation and provide all of the pertinent information for the Board to consider this proposal, as well as any alternative method of spending these funds for family planning.
There will be a public comment period that will allow comments on behalf of proponents and opponents with a maximum of 15 minutes for each side, regardless of how many speakers may actually talk for either side.
This procedure will allow each Commissioner to receive adequate information from the Health Department; hear comments from the public; ask questions; discuss among themselves; and make their respective decision after considering all of this input."