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Bozeman nonprofit gets federal grant to administer family planning services in Montana

Most employers are likely to continue paying for birth control for women. But there are exceptions.

After beating out the state health department in a competitive application process, a nonprofit clinic in Bozeman will take over administering federal funds for family planning health care services in Montana.

Bridgercare clinic won the $2 million federal Title X grant and is now charged with sharing the money with other family planning health care providers across the state.

“We’re pleased that our vision for a Title X project that emphasizes quality, equity and dignity for all Montanans was selected,” said Bridgercare executive director Stephanie McDowell.

McDowell says the clinic was spurred to seek the contract after a new state law was poised to significantly restrict who could use the federal funds if the program was administered by the Montana health department. With the nonprofit now in charge, the state law that would have prevented the money going to health care facilities that perform abortions won’t apply.

That state law was similar to a federal Trump-era policy that forced Planned Parenthood clinics out of Title X, which the Biden administration reversed last year.

With that federal policy reversed, and Bridgercare taking over administration of the program in the state, Planned Parenthood of Montana’s clinics in five cities around the state will rejoin the Title X program.

It was, and continues to be, illegal for Title X funds to go to abortion services directly.

The state health department has historically administered Title X in Montana, although it’s not uncommon for nonprofits to administer the program in other states. In a statement, health department spokesperson Megan Grotzke said the state agency is disappointed by the decision, but that “pro-abortion federal rule changes have distorted Title X and conflict with Montana law.”

McDowell says she can’t speak to why Bridgercare won the grant over the state, but says Planned Parenthood’s return to the program could be a factor.

“With the state application, they did not include those five large population areas," she said. "So I would anticipate that that would not do well in their mapping of service delivery.”

Bridgercare will take over administration of the federal family planning program on April 1.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.