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Oklahoma official says no politics behind voided pact

By TIM TALLEY Published: December 20, 2012
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A supervisor at the Oklahoma Health Department testified at a federal court hearing Thursday that politics played no role in his decision to cut Planned Parenthood from a nutritional program administered through the group's Tulsa-area offices.

Terry Bryce, who heads the Women, Infants and Children's program, acknowledged that a subordinate collected information about Planned Parenthood as he reviewed contracts but said the group's support for abortion rights was not considered when he opted to drop a pact that was worth about $450,000 annually.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit last month claiming it was denied a continuing contract with the state because its conservative policymakers disagree with its policies.

The state said Planned Parenthood's Tulsa offices were less cost-effective than other agencies that also provide nutritional counseling.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said testimony could continue into Friday and that he likely wouldn't rule immediately.

Oklahoma this fall said that, effective Dec. 31, it would end agreements it had made with Planned Parenthood over the last 18 years. It cited the uncertainty of federal funds and a higher cost-per-participant rate at the Planned Parenthood clinics in west Tulsa, midtown Tulsa and Broken Arrow.

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