Orange-based Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, which had its $300,000 health-services contract voided in March due to activist county supervisors, only to have the grant reinstated Tuesday along with regulations that will make it more difficult to attain future county funds, defiantly vowed to apply this week for the new money anyway.
"We will not be deterred by their persistent bias against us," said Jon Dunn, the nonprofit's president and CEO, in a statement sent to the Weekly. "This week, we will submit a grant proposal for next year's TSR [tobacco settlement] funds that will be fully compliant with the policies set forth in [Tuesday's] meeting--second-level breast health care for underserved and uninsured young women in Orange County."
Clockwork reported in March about evangelical ideologues on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, led by chairman John Moorlach, aborting their funding on non-abortion-related community health services by Planned Parenthood, citing the organization's abortion services. More than 3,400 supporters nationwide--including activist groups, teen health advocates, concerned parents and citizens--then called on board members to keep their personal ideology to themselves and do what they were elected to do: represent their constituents and make decisions that are in the best interest of the public.
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The board's moneychanging came as Orange County experiences one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state and an alarming increase in teens with sexually transmitted infections. "We are in the midst of an epidemic of STDs among young people in Orange County," says Dunn. "There were more than 8,300 cases of Chlamydia reported in the county in 2008, an increase of 34 percent over the number of cases reported in 2004. More than 80 percent of Chlamydia cases are among young people ages 15 to 29, the target population for our health education programs and clinical services."
County health officials quickly joined the chorus seeking the board's reinstatement of the funds, and on Tuesday the board listened. But supervisors also approved new regulations that will make it more difficult for community health organizations--especially Planned Parenthood, which has been providing these services in Orange County for more than 40 years--to secure future grants tied to TSR funds.
Dunn believes the "burdensome" new regs may tear Orange County's health care safety net.
"The Health Care Agency's recommendations are reckless and irresponsible," he said. "Targeting TSR funds toward the critical health care needs of the county is just a hollow excuse to eliminate Planned Parenthood's funding under TSR."