North Carolina votes to defund Planned Parenthood

Participants shout slogans and display placards during a rally to ‘stand up for women’s health’ at the National Mall in Washington, DC, on April 7, 2011. Participants from across the country gathered in a show of support for Planned Parenthood, the family-planning group in the crosshairs of the budget battle blazing in Congress, where a federal shutdown is looming. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Participants shout slogans and display placards during a rally to 'stand up for women's health' at the National Mall in Washington, DC, on April 7, 2011.

The North Carolina state legislature passed legislation on Wednesday that will strip Planned Parenthood of its funding in the state, making the Tar Heel state the third in the nation to defund the non-profit family planning and health care organization.

In a 31-19 state Senate vote, North Carolina lawmakers overrode Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue's veto of the bill, a two-year budget that cuts taxes, reduces environmental oversight power, and slashes funding for a number of educational and medical programs, including Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood provides a number services, including family planning, reproductive health care, sex education, testing and treatment, screening for cervical and other cancers, and abortions. According to a report by Politifact, abortions make up just under three percent of the procedures Planned Parenthood provided in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

And while Planned Parenthood receives government funding through Title X, which provides aid for family planning and reproductive health, a provision called the Hyde Amendment prohibits state and federal money from going toward paying for abortions. 

The $434,000 that Planned Parenthood North Carolina (PPNC) usually receives in state and federal funds accounts for about four percent of its annual budget.

Paige Johnson, the Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, told Hotsheet the organization plans to fight the ban immediately.

"We're not preparing to limit the scope of our services or to turn patents away," she said on Thursday. "We are preparing to fight this in court and we think we'll prevail - that we'll get an injunction immediately."

Barring that, however, she warned that women and men seeking health care services in North Carolina could be hit with months-long waits if the organization's services are interrupted by the withdrawal of funds.

"The waiting time at the local health department is up to three months" in some areas, Johnson said, while Planned Parenthood is routinely able to provide the same services "the very week a woman calls."

Johnson argued the increasingly heated debates over Planned Parenthood in recent months were indicative of an "unfortunate" political trend - but that the people who would really be affected would be "the ones who don't have access to care if we don't prevail in court."

In her Sunday veto of the North Carolina budget, Gov. Perdue argued that the bill was "ideologically driven" and "blatantly ignores the values of North Carolina's people."

"I cannot support a budget that sends the message that North Carolina is moving backwards, when we have always been a state that led the nation," Perdue wrote in a statement following the veto.

Earlier this year, the Republican lawmakers in Washington attached a similar measure in the federal budget bill. The bill passed in the House, but failed in the Senate.