Conservatives in Congress say they want to wipe out all federal spending for Planned Parenthood because it is a leading abortion provider. Supporters of the organization in Alaska say that will hurt women who go to its clinics for other care including cancer screenings, birth control services, and testing for sexually transmitted disease.
Conservative politicians and anti-abortion activists argue women can go elsewhere for other health care services. But in some parts of Alaska, that may be difficult. Without Planned Parenthood, options for low-income women are limited.
In Alaska, about 10 percent of patient visits to Planned Parenthood clinics are for abortion services, the organization said.
U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, a six-term Republican from Indiana, pushed through an amendment last month to strip away all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, arguing that it was morally wrong to spend tax dollars on an organization that provides abortions. He and others who oppose Planned Parenthood funding say they also are suspicious of its motives and practices. They say recent secretly recorded videos at some clinics raise questions about its practices concerning underage girls The Pence amendment was tacked onto an overall budget proposal in the U.S. House. The measure passed the full House, but not the Senate. Congress then approved a stop-gap measure to keep the government from shutting down. Congress now is working on a new spending plan to carry the country through the rest of the budget year. The conflict over Planned Parenthood funding promises to be part of the battle.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has gotten attention around the country for being one of few Republicans to speak out in support of Planned Parenthood. She says the organization provides vital services to those in need. "I think there are some that feel very strongly and will continue the effort to defund. I think that is a fight that is not yet resolved," she said in a recent telephone interview.
Murkowski did vote in support of H.R.1, the budget measure that wiped out the funding. She said she wanted to show support for reducing the federal budget deficit. Everyone knew that the vote was basically a staged exercise, she said, to establish on the record that neither Democrats nor Republicans had enough support to get their budget proposal through both the House and Senate.
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