On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to pass a bill that will allow states to deny funds to any health care provider that provides abortions to patients, most notably Planned Parenthood. The final vote tally was 51-50.
While not the complete defunding of Planned Parenthood that’s been widely discussed, this would certainly be considered a victory for Republicans and any pro-lifers. There is, however, already a ban on federal money funding abortions, with the exception of rare circumstances.
Thirteen states have already found ways to tiptoe around current laws, and not given funding to Planned Parenthood. If this new bill passes, expect more states follow suit, and do so much easier than their predecessors.
The funding of Planned Parenthood has been targeted by Republicans for some time now, because the organization does offer abortions to women. Whether you consider yourself pro-life or pro-choice, though, it is worth acknowledging that abortions are only a small portion of the medical care that Planned Parenthood provides women, and even men. In fact, according to the program, abortions are only 3 percent of what they provide.
It is said that Planned Parenthood — which turned 100 years old in October of last year — treats 2.5 million people on an annual basis, two-thirds of which are at or below the poverty level. They provide STD screening, contraceptives, and cancer screening and prevention, among other services. The question has been asked by people opposing the defunding of the program if it would be worth cutting off 2.5 million people per year from health care just to prevent the comparatively small amount of abortions they perform.
It’s also worth noting, due to the growth of services like Planned Parenthood and the increased availability of contraceptives, that the teen pregnancy rate has been dropping in recent years. However, in addition to many being opposed to any clinics or services that perform abortions, some religious folks also don’t believe in contraceptives either. That certainly may be another driving force for the anti-Planned Parenthood movement.
It is a very polarizing issue, and yet another issue that separates this current regime from the previous one. The law they’re attempting to overturn with this legislation is one that was put in place by former President Barack Obama late in his presidency, in an attempt to disallow states from denying funds from family planning organizations, like Planned Parenthood. But less than three months into Donald Trump’s presidency, and it’s already about to be put to an end.
This bill targeting Planned Parenthood also fits the Republican mold of states being able to govern without interference from the federal government, which is a display of consistency that doesn’t always happen in politics. On the flip side, even a conservative such as Tomi Lahren has recently pointed out what she views as hypocrisy in wanting a small government, but also wanting to control women’s bodies. Many others have gone further, painting legislation such as this as an attack on women’s rights.
After passing through the house last month, the lone hurdle that remains for this bill to become a law is the signature of President Donald Trump, which is a mere technicality given Trump’s views on abortion. Earlier this month, though, Trump did claim that he would continue federal Planned Parenthood funding if the organization stopped performing abortions.
So perhaps, with Trump acknowledging the many positive services Planned Parenthood provides, there’s some sort of compromise that could be reached between the right and left. Barring that, Planned Parenthood will continue to be the subject of an ugly fight in Washington, D.C., and around the nation.
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