- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland Democrats on Tuesday called on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to commit to funding Planned Parenthood of Maryland in his next budget proposal, as Democrats and Republicans in Washington debate Planned Parenthood funding in Congress.

A letter signed by 74 Democrats, including nine state senators and 65 House members, noted that Maryland’s fiscal year 2014 budget included $2.6 million in payments to Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Inc. The payments were made primarily by the state health department to support community-based health care, including cancer screenings, family planning services and other cost-saving preventative health care services.

“Planned Parenthood’s services are a critical component of community-based care for thousands of Maryland women and their families, and they are counting on you to protect their access to health care,” the letter said.

Matt Clark, a spokesman for Hogan, said the governor’s budget plan for the next fiscal year is still being developed.

“The administration will spend the next several months crafting next year’s budget, which won’t be published until January,” Clark wrote in an email. 

The letter signed by Maryland Democrats was sent as Republicans in Washington accused Planned Parenthood of spending millions of dollars on political activities and lavish salaries. Congressional Republicans are contending the group should not receive federal money after a series of surreptitiously recorded videos.

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood’s president, said taxpayer money is used to provide sexual disease testing, contraceptives and other health care for women. She said none of it is used for political activity. She also said videos released this summer showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing their provision of fetal tissue to medical researchers have prompted increased threats against clinics.

Abortion opponents say the videos show the group breaks the law barring for-profit fetal tissue sales and altering abortion procedures to obtain usable organs. Planned Parenthood says it hasn’t done anything illegal. The group says the videos were dishonestly edited to distort what was said.

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