Just hours after the Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed a measure to strip Planned Parenthood of funding on Friday, the embattled organization hit back, setting the stage for a showdown in what is widely seen as a symbolic effort to repeal the health care law.
The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, sponsored by Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, prohibits federal dollars from going to any organization that provides abortion services. It is an amendment to the omnibus spending bill now before Congress.
“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 preventative health care, including life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, family planning visits, birth control, HIV testing and more,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a prepared statement.
“To be clear, the amendment to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding does nothing to reduce the deficit, and it does nothing to improve the economy,” she continued. “In fact, health professionals will actually lose their jobs as a result, and most egregiously, it takes health care away from American women who cannot afford to pay for it on their own.”
Planned Parenthood says it serves 3 million patients a year, and about 48 percent receive Medicaid and/or Title X funding. Many of those patients rely on Planned Parenthood for services other than abortions, the group stresses.
In a bruising battle, the House voted 240-185 to defund the organization, with only seven Republicans voting against the measure, while 10 Democrats voted in favor of it. The House, however, must still vote to approve the spending bill before the measure goes to the Senate. It would cut about $330 million through the end of September for preventative-health services, including federal funding for contraception and cancer screening at the nation’s 800 Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation, according to ABC News.
The vote comes as no surprise. Abortion foes and conservatives across the country have led a robust grassroots campaign in recent months, with a special appeal to the black community. Activists emblazoned billboards with the alarming message that the womb is the most dangerous place for black children because of the high abortion rate among black women. Many of the attacks were centered on Planned Parenthood, which its critics accused of overpopulating black neighborhoods with abortion clinics. And for the most part, the 95-year-old organization has stood silent during this period, saying its history speaks for itself.