One of the most talked about goals of the Republican-controlled Congress is to defund Planned Parenthood in favor of federally qualified health centers that do not offer abortions.
During his CNN town hall in January, House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was asked by a female voter where millions of women would go if Planned Parenthood were defunded. In response, Ryan praised the health centers:
First of all, I want to make sure you get the care you need. We want to make sure that all women get the kind of care that they need. Like preventative screenings and services like you're talking about. We believe that this can be better be done by putting that money in federal community health centers.
Federal community health centers, I have a lot of experience with them myself. They're -- they're all throughout Wisconsin. They're -- they're virtually in every community. By putting these dollars in the federal community health centers, which provide the same kinds of services for every Planned Parenthood, there is -- there are 20 federal community health centers.
They're vastly bigger in network, there are so many more of them, and they provide these kinds of services without all of the controversy surrounding this issue.
Five FQHCs, in a phone survey of 100 FQHCs in 30 states, told the news site Rewire they do not offer contraception because they follow Catholic religious doctrine. Those five operate dozens of centers and get up to $38 million in Affordable Care Act grants, in addition to Medicare funding.
Two FQHCs follow similar restrictions at certain clinics based on their leases with Catholic hospitals. An eighth FQHC, GraceMed, will not provide intrauterine devices.
"We believe that [life] happens at conception and that we don’t want to be involved in any type of procedure that would be an abortion," David Sanford, CEO of GraceMed, told Rewire.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated in June 2014 that "emergency contraception and IUDs do not cause abortions, and therefore are not abortifacients."
Sanford told Rewire that GraceMed, which operates 13 clinics in Wichita and Topeka, Kansas, was a "Christ-centered ministry," and would refer women seeking abortions to crisis pregnancy centers, which are run by anti-abortion advocates.
Some of the health centers that do not provide birth control referred Rewire's callers to Planned Parenthood, while other health centers didn't offer any referrals to places that would provide the services that the health centers refused to do, which is a violation of federal law.
Susan Berke Fogel, director of reproductive health at the National Health Law Program, told Rewire: "If [Republicans] are successful in removing Planned Parenthood from federal funding ... that’s all the more reason for federally qualified health centers to be held to a high standard in family planning."