PLATTSBURGH - Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York is braced to lose its federal funding, contingent with the House of Representatives budget resolution decision. The agreed upon resolution eliminates Title X, and additionally removes all federal monies alloted to Planned Parenthood facilities.
According to the Office of Population Affairs, Title X, or Public Law 91-572, is a federal program designed to provide preventative health services and family planning, particularly for low income families - the only one of its kind. Among the 4,500 community health facilities reported in 2008, more than five million Americans received family planning services.
Martha Stahl, vice president of eternal affairs for the PPNCNY, acknowledged her worry at the prospect of such a reality.
"Honestly, I don't know how we would stay in business," said Stahl, who added Title X is integral in providing services for individuals with lower income.
"Title X allows us to see low income patients and put our services on a sliding fee scale," she said.
Stahl explained in low income communities, healthcare is a commodity. For many such individuals, Planned Parenthood is their only viable source of healthcare.
"For a large group of our patients, we are it," Stahl said.
Despite the perceived association with abortion, Planned Parenthood provides many services, such as counseling, screening, and immunizations among others.
"Ninety-six percent of our funding is not abortion related," Stahl pointed out. "Title X doesn't give any funding for abortion services, those are competely separate, and paid for with separate funds."
Stahl emphasized Planned Parenthood's focus on preventative medicine saying, "We see a lot of people for their regular annual exams, that's really the heart and soul of what we do."
Additionally, she acknowledged Planned Parenthood as the source for healthcare knowledge, and redirecting patients towards pertinent care.
"We provide family planning services, for things like annual exams, birth control, pap-tests - oftentimes we're the gateway into the medical field," Stahl said.
Troubled by the financial move, Stahl admitted she does not believe its roots are truly based in budgetary concerns, but instead noted a political link.
"It may be put in context of the budget, but in reality cutting Title X, and cutting the budget for Planned Parenthood services is not a smart move at all," she explained.
Despite a possible negative financial future, Stahl remains positive.
"We know from the work that we do, and the response that we have received within the last week, that this is really not aligned with the majority of American beliefs," she said. "We've been here for four decades. People know who we are and trust us, people want us to be here, and expect us to be here."
Kathie Wunderlich, PPNCNY president and chief executive officer, reiterated Stahl's sentiments.
"I think we are a very integral part of the health system, particularly for people who are in the lower income bracket," said Wunderlich. "If funding were to end, there's no way we could continue services."
At the prospect of losing funding, Wunderlich acknowledged she did not know what administrative moves she would make, nor what recourse poorer individuals might take.
"It would be extremely difficult. I don't know where we'd find those funds, and because those are among our poorest patients, I don't know where they would find affordable primary care,"she said.
Wunderlich also echoed Stahl's belief that the motivation for the cut is not solely financial.
"This has nothing to do with the budget, and that's what makes this so upsetting. This is clearly a vendetta to cut people out of any funding," she said. "It's very clear that this vendetta isn't being brought by the American people they represent."
Dr. John Middleton, founder of the Plattsburgh Right to Life and Birth Right, noted the removal of federal funding would not largely hinder Planned Parenthood at all, as they rely largely on state funding.
"Eleven states elected to pay for [Planned Parenthood] with state tax money, so it didn't stop New York at all from doing abortions - they use Medicaid funding and state money," he said.
Middleton claimed the crux of the issue is abortion, as taxpayer money is alloted to things which taxpayers do not support.
"It's very simple - why should a government pay tax money to kill children when a good part of the people think that's a violation of their rights?" asked Middleton.
In regards to the practices of Planned Parenthood, Middleton was dubious as to their intentions.
"If somebody is willing to kill an innocent unborn child, you just can't trust them - period. You can't trust anybody who is willing to sacrifice human life,"he said.