The House of Representatives on Friday voted to block all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which would prevent hundreds of thousands of women in San Bernardino County and millions throughout the country from getting important health care services.
In a 240-185 mainly partisan vote, the House approved an amendment to the continuing resolution to fund the government for the remaining seven months of 2011 that would ban federal Title X family planning grants for Planned Parenthood – Republican Rep. Mike Pence from Indiana introduced the amendment.
Republicans have said while Title X does not pay for abortions, the money Planned Parenthood received through it supported the nation’s largest abortion provider; however, Democrats and abortion-rights advocates slammed Republicans for approving an amendment that would prevent women – especially low-income women – from receiving healthcare services that went beyond abortions.
“These actions by the majority would severely hurt women’s rights and insert the government in private decisions about abortion and are nothing short of an all-out war on women,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said on the House floor on Thursday. “Republicans are seeking to impose an ideological agenda on the country.”
The president of Planned Parenthood also said the vote was more than an assault on a woman’s right to choose, but an assault on all Americans who wanted to receive various types of medical care through the organization.
“In attacking Planned Parenthood, the House Republican leadership has launched an outrageous assault on the millions of Americans who rely on Planned Parenthood for primary and preventive healthcare, including lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, family planning visits, birth control, HIV testing, and more,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said in a statement.
Last year Planned Parenthood received a quarter of the $317 million appropriated for Title X, but again, none of that taxpayer money went toward providing abortions because the organization is prohibited from using the money it receives under Title X to perform such services.
Despite the House vote on this amendment, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said the Republicans’ continuing resolution was basically dead on arrival and with the defunding of Planned Parenthood in it, some Democratic senators are even less likely to support the measure. California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer was one such senator who released a statement after the House vote saying she did not support the amendment.
“The House Republicans’ vote today is an extreme attack on women’s health that threatens the health and lives of millions of women,” she said. “It would mean less family planning and more unplanned pregnancies and abortions. It would mean fewer cancer screenings and more devastating outcomes for women and their families. We will continue to fight in the Senate against any effort to deprive women of access to life-saving health care.”
According to Boxer’s press release, Planned Parenthood operates about 110 centers in California, serving more than 730,000 clients who are mostly low-income women and families. In California, Planned Parenthood provided more than 1.4 million tests for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS; 129,000 pap smears; and 128,000 breast cancer screenings last year.
An annual report Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties released said more than 127,000 men and women were helped from 2009 to 2010. The report also said a survey of their patients showed that 44 percent went to Planned Parenthood for essential health care, nutrition services and education programs because they lost their insurance in the last year – 63 percent said they turned to Planned Parenthood because getting medical care from a hospital or some other medical facility was too expensive.
So, the Republicans attacked the funding for Planned Parenthood because of the abortion services it provides but failed to recognize, realize or quite possibly even care that more than 90 percent of the services the organization gives is actually for services that by themselves most people are supportive of. Apparently receiving medical care for HIV/AIDS, pap smears, breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, family planning, education programs, prenatal care and more are not worth helping women and men get either.
Maybe the Republicans think if they want the services they should go to a doctor, but they do not go to a doctor because they cannot afford it. There could be several reasons why they do not have the money, but why punish them because they do not have the finances. That seems more like an assault on the lower class – a class warfare of sorts.
Stephen Lynch, an anti-abortion Democrat from Massachusetts, even said although he was anti-abortion he supported the organization because of the services they provided for low-income Americans.
“This is about the ability of Planned Parenthood to conduct women’s health care, to offer services that are deeply needed in many communities where no other source of health care is available,” he said. “…I don’t have many friends in the Planned Parenthood community. They don’t support me. I am pro-life. But I respect the good work that they do.”
Hopefully voters will wake up and realize that it has been almost two months since the Republicans took control of the House and they have yet to introduce any bills that would help create jobs and get people back to work or help the economic recovery gain steam. Instead, they have voted on pieces of legislation that appeal to their base including this most recent one, which would do nothing but make it harder for low-income men and women to receive the crucial health care services they need to remain healthy, plan their future and, in some cases, stay alive.
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