Surrounded by a group of civic and religious leaders, Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to protest a planned $1 million grant to a local family planning clinic .
The grant was approved as part of the state budget, but faces fierce opposition from pro-life and religious groups in the valley.
“This $1 million for abortions is frankly shameful and a complete embezzlement of taxpayers’ money,” Bredefeld said. “This money should be used for adoption services, prenatal care and counseling services to help with pregnancy.”
Fresno City Council set to vote Thursday
The Fresno City Council is expected to vote on the issue Thursday in a “pass through” role that would allow the council to accept state money and act as a grantee for the grantee. The approach was coordinated by Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, who secured the grant during the budget process.
Due to legislative restrictions, money cannot be transferred directly from the state to Planned Parenthood.
The same city council resolution would award $7 million to the Arte Americas Cultural Center and $1.5 million to Neighborhood Industries, a local nonprofit that provides job training.
In a letter, Mayor Jerry Dyer told Arambula he disagreed with the grant.
“Acting in an administrative capacity on this potentially divisive issue is not in the best interest of the City of Fresno, and will likely cause division, deep local debate among our residents and elected officials, and prove to be an unnecessary distraction. from the heart of the city’s mission,” Dyer wrote on Aug. 3.
Right to Life of Central California director John Gerardi, who joined Bredefeld at Tuesday’s press conference, does not believe the mayor’s veto will be effective.
“If five members vote to override his veto, the measure can still pass,” Gerardi said. “Because of that, we think there’s probably five votes, so we wanted to get some public attention, some public scrutiny in hopes of maybe exerting enough pressure to convince one of the members of the advice that this is a bad idea.”
Council members Esmeralda Soria, Miguel Arias and Luis Chavez all expressed support for the resolution.
Opponents say the funds will not bring prenatal care to the Valley
Gerardi said he believes the proposal would only help meet Planned Parenthood’s funding needs without addressing the increased challenges of accessing prenatal health care in the San Joaquin Valley.
“The fact is, there is a huge need in the San Joaquin Valley for greater provision of prenatal health care, especially for low-income communities,” Gerardi said. “There are huge numbers of women in the San Joaquin Valley who are on Medi-Cal, and fewer and fewer providers want to take Medi-Cal patients to OBGYN services because it doesn’t charge well.”
He also added that the Planned Parenthood website does not indicate that prenatal care services such as pregnancy exams or ultrasounds are available.
“So we’re giving a million dollars to a reproductive care clinic that doesn’t help you if you really want to reproduce,” Gerardi said. “That’s not the need here in the San Joaquin Valley. Here in the San Joaquin Valley, the need is for quality, compassionate prenatal health care.
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte said some of the money would be used for early cancer screenings, a claim Bredefeld disputes.