April 9, 2011

Planned Parenthood

The riddance of more than $300 million in federal funding for women's health care centers, including Planned Parenthood, may well force a government shutdown at midnight tonight.

Republicans want to zero out Title X, a program enforced under Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970 to provide contraceptives, cancer screenings, and pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease testing at community health centers across the country.

Conservative lawmakers say the money indirectly subsidizes abortions, despite the fact that the federal Hyde Amendment expressly prohibits such use of taxpayer funds.

Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz, repeated a Republican argument today that abortions are "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."

Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider, but it issued a fact sheet today stating that more than 90 percent of its health care services are preventive, not abortions. It receives about $70 million of Title X funding, and the company says none of the funds are used to fund abortions.

"It's an outrage to shut down the government over an extreme proposal that would deny millions of women Pap tests, breast cancer screenings and birth control," said Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards.

Richards said the company's 4,500 clinics serve an estimated 5 million low income women every year.

Democrats say Republicans are on an extremist crusade to put a "bulls eye on women in America" and undermine essential preventive health care services for millions of low-income women that rely on Planned Parenthood and other non-related centers every day.

"We are not – we are not – we are not! Bending on women's health," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.

"This has no impact on the budget. It has no impact on the deficit or the debt," said Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski. "Where we will not go is eliminating the health care for women. Make no mistake, this entire debate has involved throwing women and children under the bus."

Mikulski and 40 fellow Senate Democrats have vowed to filibuster any budget deal that includes elilmination of Title X.

While much of the rhetoric has centered on abortion and Planned Parenthood, many smaller, religiously-affiliated health centers will also be impacted by the cuts.

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