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Hays Planned Parenthood will close from lack of funds

5/29/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

Two people will lose their jobs when Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri closes its Hays health center after 38 years of business.

The organization is closing its Hays health center June 30 in order to save its Wichita clinic.

"The reason why we are able to still provide services in Wichita is because of the closing of the Hays health center," said Elise Higgins, Kansas manager of government affairs.

The Wichita office will be funded mainly through community donations after an extended legal battle challenging the distribution of public health money. The so-called Title X funds come from the Public Health Service Act, a federal program devoted to family planning. The Title X money aims to help low-income women and men with reproductive services.

The law requires the state to first allocate Title X money to public health departments and hospitals. That leaves no funding for specialty family planning clinics, such as Planned Parenthood.

In March, an U.S. District Court of Appeals panel covering Kansas ruled the state could strip clinics in Wichita and Hays of the money. Planned Parenthood had filed a lawsuit contesting the decision.

The battle ended May 9, and federal funds officially were stripped for specialty family planning clinics.

David Gittrich, state development director at Kansans for Life, thinks it's a good move for the community.

Although the Hays health center does not directly perform abortions, the clinic does refer patients seeking abortions to other clinics.

"I'm always delighted when a huge abortion-minded organization closes one of its affilates," Gittrich said. "This is a big positive move for the Hays community. Having a baby is a blessing, not a curse, and any organization that promotes or refers for abortions should be closed. They're not really helping women."

Federal funds brought in approximately $330,000, according to court documents.

"We're still here for our patients, and we are fighting every day to maintain, restore, or expand access to health care in Kansas despite all the obstacles in our path," said Interim CEO Ron Ellifrits, in a written statement.

"The generous support of private individuals across the state, as well as the difficult decision to close our health center in Hays, will allow Planned Parenthood to continue providing services for as many Kansas women and men as possible while Kansas lawmakers continue to play politics with women's health."

Last year, the organization provided services to more than 3,700 patients at the health centers in Wichita and Hays.

The Hays Center will continue seeing patients until June 26, and officially close its doors June 30. The clinic manager and a nurse practitioner both will lose their jobs, Higgins said.