On February 18th, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would cut off all government funding for Planned Parenthood. While anti-abortion groups are praising the move, many others, including House Democrats like Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Jackie Speier, are criticizing it as a purely political tactic on the House’s part, as the bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate. Even if it does, all indications are that President Obama would swiftly veto it.
How the Bill Passed
The bill was the subject of much lobbying by anti-abortion groups such as the Right to Life Coalition and Live Action, as Planned Parenthood, along with providing other less controversial health care services, is also the nation’s largest abortion provider. Anti-abortion activists believe that cutting off Planned Parenthood’s federal funding will greatly curb or perhaps even halt this portion of the organization’s activities. The bill was overwhelmingly supported by the House Republicans, who voted in numbers large enough to pass the measure 240-185.
Planned Parenthood’s Government Funding
Planned Parenthood receives about a quarter of its funding through the government provision known as Title X. Title X is meant to specifically fund reproductive health services. Last year, Title X provided approximately $317 million to groups like Planned Parenthood that provide such health services. Under the guidelines of Title X, none of the monies received by any reproductive health service provider can be used to fund abortions. Planned Parenthood has stated several times that it abides by the rules laid out by Title X and that none of the government funding it receives is used to provide abortions.
What Planned Parenthood Does
The bulk of their services are geared towards providing reproductive health services, such as cancer screenings, HIV testing, contraceptives, and general sex education and health information, which they do not only in the United States, but worldwide. They also do provide abortion services, accounting for approximately one quarter of all abortions performed in the United States last year.
Why Planned Parenthood Should Keep Their Government Funding
They use it appropriately. The organization has said over and over that the funding received by the government is not used to perform abortions. Approximately 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does would fall under the preventive primary care and reproductive education banners. They operate 800 health centers throughout the United States, providing many women’s primary reproductive health services and trying to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases through the use of contraceptives, as well as working to educate women about their reproductive health worldwide.
If anti-abortion groups and House Republicans want to take issue with the fact that Planned Parenthood performs abortions, at this time they simply have no legal recourse to do so. And the organization’s value to millions of women in the United States alone is inestimable. Many friends and family members who did not otherwise have the money for preventive care or contraceptives have been able to go to Planned Parenthood to take care of these basic health concerns. Cutting the organization’s government funding impacts the most valuable services that they provide, and does absolutely nothing to curb abortion, because those services are paid for by separate funding, not the government. What cutting Planned Parenthood’s funding really does is make it that much harder for women in general, poor women in particular, to receive safe and affordable reproductive health services.
Planned Parenthood, ” Who We Are .”
Huffington Post, ” Planned Parenthood Funding Blocked in House Vote .”
UBSpectrum, ” Planned Parenthood Repeal Wastes America’s Time .”
Life Site News, ” Pro-Life Leaders Praise Passage of Planned Parenthood Funding Repeal, Urge Senate Lobbying .”