The Republican vote in the House of Representatives last week to cut all federal support for Planned Parenthood is a mean-spirited and reckless assault on women in this country. For millions of them, particularly poor women and those who have recently lost their jobs and therefore have no medical insurance, Planned Parenthood represents their only access to medical care.
Clearly members of Congress understand that, and yet the House of Representatives voted 240 to 185 last week for an amendment to a federal spending bill that would deny all federal support to any organization that provides abortions. Planned Parenthood was the principal target of that amendment authored by Indiana Rep. Mike Pence. Three local Republicans voted for the amendment, Reps. Dan Lungren, Wally Herger and Tom McClintock. Shame on them all. Should the Senate concur – and thankfully, that is unlikely – women will die needlessly.
Last year Planned Parenthood received $363 million in federal funds. Not a penny of that public funding was used to pay for abortions. Federal law already bars public funds from being used for abortions. No one suggests that Planned Parenthood has violated that prohibition. Safe, legal abortion services are a minuscule part of the medical care Planned Parenthood provides, and private funds are used for that purpose.
Planned Parenthood used its federal money to fund 1 million screenings for cervical cancer in 2010 and 830,000 breast exams and tens of thousands of testicular screenings. Planned Parenthood clinics provided birth control pills and other types of contraception to 2.5 million men and women, and screened and treated 4 million patients for sexually transmitted infections including HIV.
Locally, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte is the largest Planned Parenthood affiliate in the country, providing services at 33 clinics to patients in 42 counties in California and parts of Nevada. In a recent survey of nearly 20,000 Planned Parenthood patients, 70 percent said they or a family member had lost a job or had their work hours cut; 43 percent had lost health insurance; 59 percent had avoided going to a doctor in the past year because they couldn't afford it.
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