Fresno

Pro-life advocates push back on $1mil grant to Fresno’s Planned Parenthood clinic

Fresno’s pro-life supporters are speaking out against a deal that will see the city serve as a conduit for a $1 million grant from the state to the local Planned Parenthood clinic.

When the California Legislature was hammering out the budget for the new fiscal year, Asm. Joaquin Arambula (D–Fresno) requested $1 million from the state’s general fund for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, located in south Fresno.

According to the request, the Planned Parenthood clinic needs to upgrade exam tables to be ADA compliant, purchase new ultrasound probes, and remodel the medical records room.

In order for the funds to end up in Planned Parenthood’s pockets, the City of Fresno would have to act as a pass-through entity.

That will require the Fresno City Council to approve of the distribution at its upcoming meeting Thursday.

Councilmembers Miguel Arias, Esmeralda Soria and Luis Chavez are sponsoring the resolution. 

John Gerardi, the Executive Director with pro-life nonprofit Right to Life of Central California, questioned the state’s decision to funnel $1 million to Fresno’s Planned Parenthood clinic. 

“For a region that is experiencing really bad challenges with lower income people being able to get prenatal healthcare, it’s kind of absurd for the state – $1 million to one single clinic that does not actually offer prenatal care services,” Gerardi told The Sun. “This is an alleged reproductive health clinic that does not provide prenatal care. So it does not actually help you if you want to reproduce.”

While Planned Parenthood says it will use the funds for the aforementioned ultrasound probes and other upgrades, Gerardi said that is is clear that the funds will be used to expand abortion services.

“The only things they’re identifying that this is for are ADA compliance exam tables, which you can get for under $5,000, new ultrasound probes, which cost maybe $1,000 a piece, and then renovating the medical records room,” Gerardi said. “I’m wondering what they are doing with the other $800,000. It just seems like this is a funding solution in search of a funding need, basically.”

Gerardi argued the funding is not something the city “should touch with a 10-foot pole,” but the council at-large will likely disagree.

Councilman Garry Bredefeld, who is holding a press conference Tuesday afternoon at City Hall to call on his colleagues to oppose the measure, is the only Republican on the dais and might be the only councilmember to vote it down.

Councilmembers Luis Chavez and Mike Karbassi are the two moderate Democrats on the council, but with Chavez supporting the resolution – which also approves a combined $8.5 million for nonprofits Arte Americas and Neighborhood Industries – the council would likely have the five votes necessary to override a possible veto from Mayor Jerry Dyer.

“I would hope that if a lot of public controversy is drawn to this and councilmembers see just how little this community is open to such an idea, that maybe one of the sponsoring members should withdraw their support and just not vote on the bill,” Gerardi said.

Gerardi will join Bredefeld at Tuesday’s press conference, and assuming the rest of the council is not swayed ahead of Thursday, he and other pro-life advocates plan to address the council during the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting.

Regardless, Gerardi said he would rather see the money spent on boosting the region’s access to prenatal healthcare.

“I would say this money should go to clinics that provide prenatal care, especially to Medi-Cal patients,” Gerardi said. “More and more OB-GYN clinics are not taking Medi-Cal because it reimburses badly, and just a huge percentage of our community is on Medi-Cal. So if you actually care about women’s healthcare, I think that’s where the focus really needs to be.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.