Congress lets states block certain Planned Parenthood money


Following a standstill in the Senate over legislation to lift federal protections on Planned Parenthood funding, Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote to allow the bill to move forward.

The 50-50 split vote came after two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska crossed the aisle in opposition, as evidence that the measure should not have been taken up.

The Senate, after a procedural vote, will now proceed to a measure that would dismiss an Obama-era rule banning states from denying federal funds to such organizations. This would have forced many of them to either scale back services or close, except GOP leaders couldn't amass the votes to pass the American Health Care Act in March.

Under rules from President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services, states could not withhold Title X funding from health care centers like Planned Parenthood because they offer abortion services.

Under the Hyde Amendment, Planned Parenthood and other healthcare clinics already can not receive federal money for abortion services. Pence broke his first tie on the nomination of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Collins has voted against many abortion restrictions while Murkowski's record on the issue is mixed. Patty Murray, D-Wash., using a nickname for the failed House health care bill. Democrats said the resolution was an attack on women's health, contending the rollback will make it harder for low-income and rural women to obtain screenings for cancer and other diseases, as well as contraception.

"On this vote the yeas are 50, the nays are 50", Pence said. Over 20 states have already made moves to cut off Planned Parenthood from public funding.

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"What is most striking is the deafening silence from [a] group of nearly entirely male politicians who are making it harder for women" to get the health care they need, she said.

The New York Times notes that the Obama-era measure protected Planned Parenthood, guaranteeing that individual states could not decide to strip funding from the organization. "Family planning and preventative health care are still very much threatened". The vote was mostly along party lines, although two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of ME, voted with the Democrats against the resolution.

At the national level, Planned Parenthood celebrated the collapse of the GOP health care overhaul effort, yet acknowledged that it will remain a target of the anti-abortion movement and its allies. James Lankford, R-Okla. "States could choose to have Planned Parenthood as part of their Title X funding states should not be compelled to".

"The State is going to stand up to Donald Trump, I promise you that", said Democratic Speaker of House of Delegates Mike Busch. Many told us that their worst fears were losing access to quality health care, that insurance wouldn't cover pregnancy and childbirth, that Planned Parenthood would be defunded, and that their families would suffer.

Title X is the country's only federal family planning program.

Title X has provided about $286 million annually in recent years to certain health providers, and Planned Parenthood has received about $25 million of that money.



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