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House Republicans rejected an early amendment in Wednesday’s budget debate that would strike language banning local health departments from using outside contractors. Rep. Diane Parfitt, who offered the amendment, argued that local health departments unable to provide certain family planning services should be allowed to contract with Planned Parenthood.

Other Democrats were more direct, arguing the defunding provision would overburden local health departments and harm low-income individuals who have relied on Planned Parenthood for screenings and preventive care:

“It is nothing more than a fig leaf trying to cover the majority’s open hostility to Planned Parenthood,” said Rep. Rick Glazier.

Rep. John Blust bristled at Rep. Jennifer Weiss’ assertion that this was a continuation of the “war on women in North Carolina” by Republicans.  Blust then offered up an “expose” by a pro-life group that alleged Planned Parenthood was condoning sex selective abortions.

Rep. Verla Insko said lawmakers who supported the restriction on private providers of family planning services should be clear – the  provision was not about abortion,  it was about access to contraception:

“I certainly would not call this a bill to liberate women.”

Rep. Parfitt’s amendment was ultimately rejected along party lines, 51-68.  To watch a portion of Wednesday’s heated budget debate, click below:

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UPDATE: After drawing heated criticism, New Hanover Co. Commissioners plan to reconsider their vote over birth control funding. The board will hear a presentation from the Health Department and accept public input at its April 2nd meeting.

Readers of  Wednesday’s Fitzsimon File (“Lunacy in New Hanover County”) might be wondering: Is that really how Monday’s debate over a family planning grant for New Hanover County played out? Did the board Chairman really say if women were “responsible people and didn’t haven’t sex to begin with, we wouldn’t be in this situation” ?

Well, we’ll let you watch the debate below and decide for yourself.

The discussion begins with Commissioner Rick Caitlin, who sits on the county Board of Health, explaining his understanding of the need for the $9,000 family planning grant.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to visit N.C. Policy Watch’s main site where you can see Chris Fitzsimon’s take on the events:

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