Defunding of Planned Parenthood

By Amber Faigin
Staff Writer

On Feb. 18, 2011, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives voted to block all federal funding from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, by cutting off the budget for Title X, which uses federal funds to help with family planning.

The measure, part of a spending bill intended to cut up to $60 billion from the remaining fiscal year, passed 240-185. In order for the bill to go into effect, it must pass through a Democratic-controlled Senate and be signed by President Obama.

The author of the measure, Rep. Mike Pence, had previously introduced legislation that would prevent Title X from providing funds to any organization that also provided abortion services.

This latest measure goes a step further. It specifically targets only Planned Parenthood. Anti-abortion activists herald the measure as a step towards preventing abortion on a national scale. Pro-choice activists, however, accuse the measure of being yet another assault in a recent series of attacks on women’s rights, especially as the measure excludes abortions even in the instance of rape.

Approximately 30 percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget comes from Title X, with the remaining 70 percent coming through charitable donations and co-pays. Of that budget, less than five percent is used towards abortions or abortion related services, with about 60 percent of their budget going towards other health services, such as pelvic exams, cancer screening, STD testing and pre-natal care. Nearly 20 percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget goes towards teaching sex education in public schools and offering information at clinics.

There are already laws in place that prevent federal funds from being used towards abortion. However, Rep. Mike Pence, and other members of the Republican party, believe that by defunding the entire organization, they can make progress towards eventually making abortions illegal.

One pro-choice protester commented, “They aren’t taking any funding away from abortions, they’re taking it away from us and our healthcare. This isn’t about defending unborn babies, it’s about attacking women.” Such protesters were hopeful that the Senate would strike down the measure.

However, at the time this article was written, the Senate was unable to come to an agreement over the spending bill and a stop-gap measure was passed. President Obama signed it into effect on March 2, allowing Congress two weeks to develop a less controversial bill. While the stop-gap measure still cuts $4 billion out of the federal budget, it does not outline any concrete measures for the current budget crisis or Planned Parenthood.

To get involved please visit http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/

Or to donate directly to the clinics go to http://www.plannedparenthood.org

This article appeared in the March 2011 print edition of The Raven Review.
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