Sisterhood Blog

The Implications of Defunding Planned Parenthood

By Sarah Seltzer

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It’s finally happened. Earlier this afternoon the House voted 240 to 185 to deny all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Even worse, this was a vote to end all Title X funding — that’s the funding that is devoted to providing preventive health and comprehensive family planning services to low-income families. Planned Parenthood currently receives zero federal funding for abortion, thanks to the Hyde Amendment. So while ostensibly done in the name of anti-abortion policy, today’s amendment sponsored by Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, was really an all-out attack on poor women’s health care.

As Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards said in an email to supporters today:

Minutes ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to bar Planned Parenthood from all federal funding for any purpose whatsoever. That means no funding to Planned Parenthood health centers for birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other essential care.

Or as the Awls’ Choire Sicha summed it up more sarcastically: “240 Politicians Come Together in Support of Teens Having STDs.”

If enacted (which it probably won’t be, thanks to a Democratic Senate and President), it would leave millions of American women out in the cold without access to their primary source of health care — and it would probably result in more unintended pregnancies. We already have a system right now, with federal funding of abortion banned, that makes abortion into a service only truly available for those with means. The idea here, as Amanda Marcotte wrote today is to turn contraception into the same thing: a luxury good.

Adding to the distress of the vote itself was the fact that the bill went forward this way despite the moving testimony from several female members of congress this morning, who spoke of their own experiences with abortion and teen motherhood. These clips are not to be missed, and the fact that the brave speakers’ colleagues essentially spit in their faces with the subsequent vote stings all the more.

Here’s Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) (incidentally, part-Jewish) speaking of her own abortion at 17 weeks due to medical complications:

And here’s Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) speaking about having a child at 18 and the consequence of “unplanned parenthood” — and wondering where the Republicans’ concern for “black babies” is once they’re born.


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