(PRESS RELEASE) Despite one in five women depending on Planned Parenthood in her lifetime, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed a measure which will strip the organization of all federal funding dedicated to providing basic health care services—including cancer screenings and contraception—to millions of low-income women, men, and young people.
The measure—HR 3134—was introduced by Representative Diane Black (R-TN) and would prohibit any federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood for one year unless the organization pledges to stop offering safe and legal abortion services except in extremely limited circumstances. Congress currently prohibits health care providers like Planned Parenthood from using federal funds to provide safe and legal abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is at immediate risk.
Today’s measure also included an amendment—introduced by Representative Renee Ellmers (R-NC)—that would redirect to Community Health Centers funds previously dedicated to Planned Parenthood facilities. While Community Health Centers provide vital and much-needed services to communities across the country, the assumption that they could absorb the millions of women, men and teens who would be denied care because of this legislation is grossly inaccurate.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“It is unconscionable that politicians in Congress continue to play this game of keep-away with women’s basic health care services. Without access to critical health care offered at Planned Parenthood clinics across the U.S., the lives and health of countless women will be at grave risk.
“We continue to stand with Planned Parenthood and high-quality reproductive health care providers against this underhanded smear campaign. All women deserve access to high-quality, affordable health care services and we call upon Congress to reject any measures which validate these unfounded attacks.”
In a separate effort to choke off essential reproductive health care, the House also passed HR 3504 today, a measure introduced by Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) which would amend the Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 by adding new criminal penalties against doctors. In addition to criminalizing physicians for providing constitutionally protected health services, HR 3504 also mandates vague new requirements on how physicians must care for their patients.
Today’s votes comes a little over a month since a bill to defund Planned Parenthood was blocked from going to a vote in the Senate. All of these measures come on the heels of a series of heavily-edited videos obtained under false pretenses by anti-abortion extremists fixated on ending safe and legal abortion in U.S. Several members of Congress and the California Attorney General have called for investigations of the organizations behind this underhanded effort. Additionally, a recent poll by CNN shows that the majority of Americans do not want Congress to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood defunding.
Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care providers are granted federal dollars to provide much needed health care services—including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—to underserved communities. The organization serves a total of 2.7 million women, men, and teens per year.
A number of states have slashed family planning funding in recent years, including Texas. The Center for Reproductive Rights has been documenting the devastating impact of the loss of family planning services in the Rio Grande Valley since 2011, when the Texas legislature severely cut funding for women’s health services and excluded Planned Parenthood—the state’s largest family planning provider—from participating in the Texas Women’s Health Program.