Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Health board meeting moves to bigger venue

By Cindy Schroeder, cschroeder@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WILDER — Northern Kentucky's health board has moved its June 19 meeting to a room that can hold up to 550 because of a landmark vote on whether to continue accepting federal dollars for family planning services.

   • What: Vote by Northern Kentucky Independent Health District Board of Health on whether to accept federal Title X funding to provide family planning services
   • When: 6:30 p.m. June 19. The vote is the last item of business.
   • Where: Marquise Banquet & Conference Center, 1016 Town Drive, Wilder, Ky.

    Although the meeting is open to the public, no public input will be accepted before the vote, as the public had a chance to speak on the issue at a health board caucus on May 9, or by sending in written comments.

   Members of the Northern Kentucky Independent District Board of Health

   Boone County representatives
   Roger Augenstein, D.V.M.
   Christopher A. Cunha, M.D.
   George T. Donvan, M.D.
   Richard G. Gautraud, M.D.
   Charles Kenner, D.M.D.
   Addia Wuchner, R.N. (Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore's designee)
   Maureen Sheldon, R.N.

   Campbell County representatives
   Daniel Courtade, M.D.
   Tony Kramer, R.N. (Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli's designee)
   Nancy Gray, R.N.
   Phyllis Schenk, R.N.
   Richard D. Schuck, optometrist
   Steve Pendery, Campbell County judge-executive (designee is Pat Dressman)
   Carla Austin, R.N.

   Kenton County representatives
   Joseph G. Bessler, R.Ph.
   Mary Lou Gastright (Covington Mayor Butch Callery's designee)
   Mark A. Boyd, M.D.
   Carl J. Brueggemann, M.D.
   Laura Crone
   Stephen W. Hilz, M.D.
   Don Kiely
   Michael Kirkwood, M.D.
   Kenton County Commissioner Barb Black (Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd's designee)
   James A. Noll, D.V.M.
   Thomas M. Shaughnessy, M.D.
   Tammy S. Skaats, R.N.

   Grant County representatives
   Greg Kennedy, M.H.A., chairman of the district board
   Darrell L. Link, judge-executive
   William Ford Threlkeld II, M.D.

        The Northern Kentucky Independent District Board of Health will hold its quarterly meeting at the Marquise Banquet & Conference Center in Wilder.

        A vote that night by the 29-member local health board could make it the first in the nation to reject family planning dollars on the grounds that it is money for contraceptives that cause abortions.

        Peggy Patterson, spokeswoman for the health district, said the meeting was moved to accommodate the expected crowd. The health district's Edgewood meeting room can seat 20 members of the public.

        About 400 people attended a May 9 hearing on the issue in Florence, with the 20 speakers evenly divided on whether or not to discontinue federal Title X funds for family planning services.

        “We're planning for the same number we had at the caucus, about 400,” Ms. Patterson said. “We wanted a big enough facility for the expected crowd.”

        Board chairman Greg Kennedy has said that the vote is too close to call. Mr. Kennedy, who has said that he supports keeping Title X funding, would only vote in case of a tie.

        Since its May 9 caucus, the health board has received 60 written comments asking the board to keep Title X dollars; 31 that oppose acceptance of Title X money, and one neutral comment.

        Those who believe that birth control pills cause abortions say the Pill changes the lining of the uterus to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. Since the change takes place because of a drug — and since they believe that life begins at conception, they say the destruction of that life constitutes an abortion.

        Opponents also say they don't want their tax dollars used to provide contraceptives to minors without parents' permission.

        During the past fiscal year, Northern Kentucky health centers provided Title X family planning services (everything from gynecological exams to health screenings to contraceptives) to 676 teen-agers from 13 to 17; 3,508 women ages 18 to 35; and 278 women who were 36 or older.

        Supporters of keeping the $170,000 in annual Title X funds say that poor women who need family planning services the most would be unable to get them.

        Although another agency would be required to step in and provide those services if the health board decides against accepting Title X funds, family planning services would not be as accessible to many women, especially those in rural areas, supporters say.


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