Blog Post

U.S. House Defunds Planned Parenthood, Battle Now Moves to Senate

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist

By a vote of 240-185, the U.S. House approved an amendment on Friday that cuts off all federal funding of Planned Parenthood. The amendment, which is part of a measure to fund all government agencies through September 2011, now moves to the Senate where a decision will have to be made before March 4 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Politico is reporting that the three-hour debate on the House floor leading up to the vote on Friday afternoon was at times heated and emotional, with one member even admitting that she had had an abortion earlier in her life and believed poor women needed the kind of services Planned Parenthood offers.

But the overwhelmingly pro-life body could not be swayed from stripping the nation's largest abortion provider of the millions of taxpayer dollars it rakes in every year.

“What’s clear to me, if you follow the money, you can actually take the funding supports out of abortion," Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), sponsor of the amendment, told Politico after the vote. "We then have a much better opportunity to move forward to be a society that says yes to life.”

The Pence Amendment was added to H.R. 1, a measure to fund all federal agencies through September 30, 2011. It disqualifies Planned Parenthood and its named affiliates from receiving any type of federal funds. At present, Planned Parenthood affiliates receive about one-third of their aggregate clinic-level income from selling abortions.  The organization has a total annual budget of about $1.1 billion, of which about one-third comes from taxpayer funds.

The amendment also contains a number of other pro-life provisions including a provision to restore the Mexico City Policy which denies U.S. foreign aid funds to organizations that promote abortion as a method of birth control. It also restores a ban on the use of federal funds for abortion on demand in the DC district where the procedure is currently allowed without any limitation.

Shortly after the vote, Planned Parenthood sent an urgent fund-raising appeal to its supporters, calling the amendment "the most dangerous legislative assault in our history" and vowing that it "cannot go unanswered."

"We — Planned Parenthood and the three million women, men, and teens who are at risk of losing access to basic care — need you to stand united with us now.”

They asked members to sign a form letter that can be sent to Congress expressing their dissatisfaction with the vote.

NARAL Pro-Choice America also weighed in, saying it would generate 50,000 phone calls to the Senate to oppose the amendment once it reaches the upper chamber. “We must make a big statement right now to call on the Senate to say no to this devastating cut. Help us send 50,000 emails to the Senate in the next seven days,” it asked its members in an e-mail.

Pro-life groups had nothing but praise for the historic vote.

"We commend Mike Pence and the bipartisan majority of House members who stood with the American people in saying that enough is enough," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "Planned Parenthood, a scandal-plagued abortion organization, must be held accountable for abusing innocent young victims while receiving hundreds of millions in federal dollars each year."

Perkins is referring to the latest scandal involving Planned Parenthood in which a youth-led pro-life group, Live Action, videotaped several clinic employees telling a man posing as a pimp how they would provide medical services, including abortion, to the underage girls he was supposedly trafficking.

"This landmark vote demonstrates that most House members now recognize Planned Parenthood is a hyper-political, under-regulated, out-of-control mega-marketer of abortion as a method of birth control," said Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

The amendment will now be considered in the U.S. Senate - where 33 seats, 23 of them currently held by Democrats or independents who caucus with the Democrats, will be on next year's general election ballot.

"Now senators, too, will go on record on whether to push the snout of this bloated abortion mega-marketer, Planned Parenthood, out of the U.S. Treasury feeding trough," said NRLC's Johnson.

Any differences that emerge between the House and Senate versions of the bill will become subjects for negotiations between the two houses, and with the White House.

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®  http://www.womenofgrace.com

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