Donors step in after GarCo says no to Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood has received nearly $6,000 from donors in Garfield County since county commissioners on Dec. 17 voted against giving $5,000 to its Glenwood Springs office, the organization says.

“We are fortunate to have very generous donors who were willing to step up and fill the gap in funding left by the decision made by the Garfield County commissioners,” said Monica McCafferty, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson voted not to follow a grant committee’s recommendation to give the office the funds.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky sits on the committee, and in that capacity had voted against the grant, partly due to concerns from some constituents over the county giving grants in past years to an organization that provides abortion-related services. However, he voted for the grant as a commissioner, saying he felt he needed to support the committee’s decision.

None of the money would have gone for abortion-related services. Planned Parenthood also provides services such as annual exams, birth control, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

Martin has maintained his vote had nothing to do with the abortion issue.

“That’s between a woman and her doctor and her creator,” he said in an interview.

Rather, he noted that the Glenwood site has an $800,000 budget, and said it had less need for the $5,000 as part of a national organization.

His position has drawn some criticism, including in some letters to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, by writers noting that the county gave Catholic Charities a $19,000 grant.

“The rationale, I thought, was rather weak on John Martin’s part,” said Carbondale resident Nancy Smith.

Martin said Catholic Charities also will need to rely less on county funding in the future.

McCafferty said Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is a completely separate nonprofit from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, “and as such, we don’t receive funding from our national office to assist with patient care.”

The grant the Glenwood office previously has received has provided care for more than 100 patients a year, she said.

Jan Gessele, executive director of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Glenwood Springs, which seeks to provide women with pregnancy care including alternatives to abortion, said her agency manages to get by with donations and fundraising events and not ask for county funding.

“We operate quite differently and I think the taxpayers appreciate it,” said Gessele, who said that speaking personally as a taxpayer, she thinks commissioners made the right decision.

Smith said grants to subsidize Planned Parenthood are important because of the primary care it provides.

“When I first moved to the valley Planned Parenthood was my only doctor,” she said.


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