The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed on Friday the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, 248-177. The bill strips the women’s health provider of its funding for contraception, pap smears, and testing for sexually-transmitted infections, unless it stops performing abortions.
President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the bill, setting the stage for a possible government shutdown. Some congressional Republicans have vowed not to vote for any budget that includes funding for the organization.
“Planned Parenthood can get their money back if they fully commit to what they talk about, women’s healthcare, and stop performing abortions for this year,” said Rep. Diane Black. Her fellow Republican of Tennessee, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, also a vocal supporter of the bill, declared, “If there is reason to investigate, there is reason to withhold taxpayer funding during that time.”
“These false claims against Planned Parenthood have been widely discredited,” retorted Rep. Kathy Castor, Democrat of Florida. “They’ve edited content out, and they’ve edited false images in.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also weighed in. “The House voting to defund Planned Parenthood is an attack on women’s health – nothing more, nothing less. Republicans should be ashamed,” she tweeted Friday.
Several House committees are investigating Planned Parenthood after the release of secretly-recorded videos from an anti-abortion group, showing Planned Parenthood employees and current and former employees of a fetal tissue procurement firm. The group behind them says they show Planned Parenthood breaking laws regulating fetal tissue donation for the purpose of medical research – specifically, profiting off the tissue and altering procedures to obtain intact parts – which Planned Parenthood denies. None of the federal funding in question goes to abortion or to fetal tissue donation programs, although the National Institutes of Health does fund research on fetal tissue.
The anti-abortion legislators have also asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate; she has only said she is looking at the matter. Rep. Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, said on the floor before the vote, “There are no criminal charges. There’s no charges at all that are pending against Planned Parenthood. “
Republicans have said the funds should be redirected to community health centers. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2010 Planned Parenthood provided about a third of the services to women who obtained contraceptive care at federally-subsidized safety-net centers.
The bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate, and its supporters have expressed frustration that Republican leaders seem unwilling to shut down the government over the roughly $500 million in funding.