Center for Reproductive Rights: U.S Senate Narrowly Passes Latest Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

Pro-choice champions attempt to block defunding language and protect women’s health clinics

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–December 4, 2015. Ignoring calls from elected officials and other key leaders, the U.S. Senate today voted 52-47 to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal key pieces of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The measure was passed through the budget reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority of 51 senators rather than the 60 ordinarily required.

HR 3762—which originated in the House and was amended by the Senate— would strip Planned Parenthood of federal Medicaid funding for one year, denying millions of low-income people around the country access to preventive health care including cancer screenings and contraception.

Similar to the House version, the measure also dismantles essential elements of the ACA, such as the individual and employer mandates. In addition, the Senate version would go much further than the House version, for example by repealing the ACA marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion, cutting off affordable access to health care coverage for the people who need it most.

Several amendments to improve the bill were rejected, including an amendment offered by Senators Collins (R-ME), Kirk (R-IL) and Murkowski (R-AK) to remove the language defunding Planned Parenthood. Ultimately, Senators Collins and Kirk voted against the bill while Senator Murkowski voted in favor of passage. A different amendment to restore funding to Planned Parenthood and enhance clinic safety offered by pro-choice champions Senators Murray (D-WA) and Wyden (D-OR) also failed to pass.

The amended bill now returns to the House for approval before heading to the president’s desk. The White House has indicated that President Obama would veto the bill.

“These baseless, politically motivated attacks against women’s health care providers must stop,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“It is unconscionable that politicians would continue their crusade against basic women’s health care services like contraception and cancer screenings in the current climate of overheated rhetoric and hostility toward providers of essential health care services.

“We stand with Planned Parenthood and all women’s health care providers in the face of these attacks and press our elected officials to reject these dangerous measures that harm our families and our communities.”

Opponents of safe and legal abortion have created an increasingly hostile environment around women accessing the full range of reproductive health care.  Between violence at health centers and a variety of legislative attacks against reproductive health care providers, women in this country are facing an unprecedented number of barriers when they need to end a pregnancy safely and legally.