On Friday, Sept. 18, the House of Representatives voted to eliminate federal health-care funding for non-profit, Planned Parenthood for a 1-year period. The vote was 241-187, with nearly all Republicans and two Democrats voting in favor of the legislation.
It remains unclear whether or not this decision will influence a government shutdown of the organization all-together.
The voting follows months of investigation on Planned Parenthood. Undercover footage shot by an activist group showed the organization violating federal laws that prohibit the sale of fetal tissue for profit and restrict particular abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood denies these accusations and claims the videos have been manipulated to show what the activist group wanted.
Neither bill is likely to become law. President Obama has stated that he will veto both bills and Senate Democrats filibustered similar attempts.
The House of Representatives passed two abortion-related bills on Friday. The first bill that was passed on Friday, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, imposes criminal penalties on any medical personnel who fails to aid an infant born after an attempted abortion procedure. The second bill passed, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, establishes a 1-year ban on federal funding for the organization. Republicans say that this will allow a thorough investigation of the organization’s practices, to make sure everything is being done legally. Funding set aside for Planned Parenthood is to be redirected to clinics that do not offer abortions.
“Most people think that is common sense,” said Rep. Diane Black, who sponsors the defunding bill. “If there is a reason to investigate, then there is a reason to withhold taxpayer dollars during that period of time. The American taxpayer has been clear for a very long time that they do not want federal funds spent on abortion.”
On the other hand, Democrats pointed out Planned Parenthood has not been allowed to spend federal money on abortions for a long time now, due to appropriation riders dating back to the 1970s. During the Friday floor debate, they called the bill an attack on women’s healthcare and argued that all other health-care providers would not be able to take in all of the organizations patients.
“This bill is dumb, it’s foolish, and it’s mean-spirited,” said Rep. Lois Frankel. “This bill is based upon lies and exaggerations. If you want to have a truthful debate, then let’s talk about the 400,00 Pap smears, the 500,00 breast exams, the 4.5 million STD and HIV test that Planned Parenthood does each year.”
Planned Parenthood and it’s affiliates together are the country’s largest abortion providers. Though Planned Parenthood is known and being targeted for its performance of abortions, it also provides other women’s health and family planning services, funded through Medicaid and Title X federal grants which total about $450 million a year.
“These bills are a callous attempt to insert politics into women’s health, and we’re grateful that the Senate and the president will stop them from becoming law,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund spokesman, Eric Ferrero, said.
The House viewed the video footage that was released by the Center for Medical Progress, and it was evident to Democrats that there was some serious foul play.
Rep. Kathy Castor called them part of a “coordinated broad-based smear campaign full of distortions and misinformation.” She explained that key contents were edited out.
Republicans, of course, disagree, stating that the videos spoke for themselves and, in a time-honored Republican/Democrat clash, claimed that the Democrats were trying to undermine the content of the footage. “If they want to send one taxpayer dime to Planned Parenthood after watching them, shame on them,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold.
“The votes this afternoon are evidence of just how wedded to the idea of abortion on-demand, at any time, for any reason, that the Democratic Party has become,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List stated. “Where is the compassion and concern for ‘the little guy,’ the abortion survivor, whose heart is beating and alive?”
Democrats argue that the current law is entirely sufficient enough to prevent any abuse that activists fear. They also pointed out objections from medical groups like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which said the bill is a “gross legislative interference into the practice of medicine.”
Despite the ongoing abortion debate, the 1-year funding ban stands, and an investigation will now take place into the Planned Parenthood organization to assure that all procedures are just and legal.
“In the short term, you might feel better, but the money’s already out the door,” Appropriations Committee member and leadership ally, Rep. Tom Cole said. “Let’s do the hearings. Let’s find out what the case is. Let’s try to craft something that’s a little more nuanced and precise than just, ‘if you don’t do what we want, we’ll shut down the government.’”