LINCOLN — Planned Parenthood has announced that it will expand its presence in Nebraska, even as it makes plans to operate without federal family planning funds.
The announcement comes more than a month after the Nebraska Legislature passed a budget that effectively barred Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning dollars known as Title X.
“We cannot be scared out of Nebraska,” said Meg Mikolajczyk, the new deputy state director. “We aren’t going anywhere.”
Andi Curry Grubb will be the new state executive director for Planned Parenthood in Nebraska.
Currently, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is a two-state affiliate overseen by a leadership team in Iowa. Now Nebraska will have its own leadership team and will join Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa in a regional affiliate.
Together, the states will be called Planned Parenthood North Central States and will manage 29 health centers serving more than 114,000 patients across the five states.
Both women said having leadership in Nebraska will allow the organization to focus on what Nebraska needs and build its political influence.
“We’re not backing down,” Curry Grubb said.
The organization is not eliminating any current health services, and the clinics in Omaha and Lincoln will stay open.
Curry Grubb and Mikolajczyk said the plans for the change in leadership have been in the works for a while and were not a direct response to the changes to the use of Title X funds.
Instead, both women said the changes come at a time when the organization’s mission and financing have been targeted.
New restrictions to Title X passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pete Ricketts effectively cut off the funds to Planned Parenthood because they require that an organization getting Title X dollars be separated legally, physically and financially from an organization providing abortions or making abortion referrals.
Planned Parenthood serves about 8,000 of the 28,000 Title X patients in Nebraska.
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood sent a letter to patients telling them the organization’s doors are still open, services are still available and there are no immediate changes to the cost of care.
The letter said if patients used the Title X program to cover their costs, they might have to pay for part of the care out-of-pocket starting July 1, but patients might qualify for other discount programs, and the organization would help patients get the services they need and cover of the cost of care.
“No matter what, Planned Parenthood values you as a patient, and we are here to continue providing your care,” the letter said.