$1 million grant to Fresno’s Planned Parenthood is unnecessary giveaway of state funds

·4 min read

On its agenda for this Thursday, the Fresno City Council is poised to vote on granting $1 million to a single Fresno abortion clinic, courtesy of the state of California. This is an irresponsible giveaway of state funding that highlights liberal California’s myopic obsession with abortion, to the exclusion of far more pressing public health concerns for prenatal care in the San Joaquin Valley.

The measure in question — sponsored by councilmembers Miguel Arias, Esmeralda Soria, and Luis Chavez — will appropriate $1 million from the state to the city of Fresno as a pass-through entity. The funds are earmarked for a Fresno clinic of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, the national abortion giant’s regional affiliate that operates clinics throughout northern and central California and Nevada.

Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula secured this funding for the Planned Parenthood clinic in Fresno on Fulton Street south of Olive, which is within his district. It is noteworthy that Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte, the advocacy and political arm of nonprofit Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, endorsed Dr. Arambula in 2020 and is endorsing him again for 2022. He has a 100% voting record on their favored policies, and he received a $4,700 contribution from a Planned Parenthood-affiliated entity in his most recent election in 2020. One would imagine, after such devoted service, that another chunk of campaign change is on its way for 2022.

John Gerardi
John Gerardi

The proposed renovations “include,” according to Arambula’s budget request shared by Councilmember Garry Bredefeld, ADA-compliant exam tables, new ultrasound probes, and remodeling the medical records room. ADA-compliant exam tables can be purchased for under $5,000, and ultrasound probes can cost $1,000 apiece. After renovating one room, one is left to wonder what this single clinic is going to do with the remaining hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funding. Perhaps every clinic employee is getting a Tesla for their Christmas bonus?

The whole thing feels like a funding solution in search of a funding need, thrown at Planned Parenthood because of our Legislature’s anger at the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. This year, our Legislature has bandied about all kinds of extreme ideas for spending our money on abortion. This includes bills paying for travel, lodging, child care, lost wages, and other costs to facilitate out-of-state persons getting abortions in California; a Teach for America-style scheme to pay off the student loan debt of doctors and other health-care personnel, so long as they commit to perform abortions; eliminating all out-of-pocket expenses for abortion for anyone with public or private insurance; and more highly questionable uses of taxpayer money. The Legislature is bending over backward to pay for abortion provision, far more than they are doing to pay for actual childbirth.

Frankly, the greater need in the San Joaquin Valley is for prenatal care, not abortion. An enormous percentage of the region’s population is on Medi-Cal. Fewer and fewer providers are willing to take Medi-Cal patients for obstetric care due to poor reimbursement rates. This is perhaps the key problem for prenatal care provision in our region. The problem is so great that Valley Children’s Hospital and St. Agnes Medical Center have both identified lack of access to prenatal care as one of the top public health problems in the San Joaquin Valley.

According to Fresno State researchers, 87% of women in north Fresno receive prenatal care before they deliver, as compared to only 77-79% of women in south Fresno (coincidentally, this comprises much of Dr. Arambula’s district). Some southwest Fresno neighborhoods can expect as many as 1 in 4 children dying before their first birthday. Just over 7% of all children born in Fresno County have low weight births (under 2500 g), above the statewide average of 6.9%. The infant mortality rate is 6.8 per 1,000 live births, above the statewide average of 4.4 per 1,000.

Planned Parenthood’s Fulton Street clinic provides abortion, contraception, and transgender interventions, but, critically, does not actually provide prenatal care services, according to its own webpage. That’s right — our lawmakers have the temerity to throw $1 million at a “reproductive” clinic that doesn’t provide ongoing care for women who actually want to reproduce. How many lives could be saved if Fresno gave this $1 million to providers who want to help children be born, rather than to a clinic whose practice ends their lives?

This grant is not responsive to our community’s needs, and is an expression of left-wing agitation over a Supreme Court decision that lawmakers dislike. The council should not go along with it, and Mayor Jerry Dyer should veto it.

John Gerardi is executive director of Central California Right to Life. Lucia Mireles-Chavez is a Fresno pediatrician.

Lucia Mireles-Chavez
Lucia Mireles-Chavez