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Miami County again decides to forgo contraceptive funds

By MATT CAMPBELL
The Kansas City Star

For a second time, Miami County commissioners have decided to forgo a government grant for contraceptives.

More than 75 people packed a meeting Wednesday in Paola, Kan., where commissioners revisited an earlier decision not to seek the funds. After audience members spoke on both sides of the issue, commissioners reaffirmed their original position.

That places in question an even greater amount of aid for family-planning services to the poor, according to a county commissioner.

The board voted 3-2 earlier this month, on a motion by Commissioner Danny Gallagher, to delete about $9,000 from the county’s annual grant request from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

According to a local newspaper account, one commissioner said taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for contraceptives.

For years, the grant money has subsidized the cost of contraceptives for low-income women. Without it, an estimated 150 to 160 women will be without that assistance after July 1.

Gallagher moved Wednesday to reinstate the grant request but withdrew his motion after the public testimony. Commissioner Rob Roberts then moved to seek the contraception funds, but his motion failed 2-2.

Roberts and Commission Chairman Ron Stiles voted to seek the funds while Gallagher and Commissioner George Pretz voted no. Commissioner Jim Wise was absent.

Roberts said the Kansas health department has indicated that Miami County’s stance might mean it will get none of the approximately $32,000 in family-planning assistance it is eligible for.

Gallagher could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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