Friday, 18 February 2011

House Votes Ban on Funding for Planned Parenthood

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Mike PenceIn what is likely to be one of the most controversial votes in what promises to be a contentious legislative year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday to ban all federal funding for Planned Parenthood and to eliminate a Title X program that provides aid for family planning and reproductive health services to low-income families.

The amendment by Indiana Republican Mike Pence was passed by a vote of 240 to 185 as part of a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year on September 30. The vote was mostly along party lines, with only 11 Democrats voting for the amendment and just seven Republicans voting against. The measure was immediately condemned by "abortion rights" activists as "extreme and dangerous" legislation and an "assault" on millions of Americans.

"The outcome of this vote is not a surprise, but it is radically out of step with mainstream American values and it is out of line with the issues voters want Congress to focus on," said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards in an e-mailed statement. "In attacking Planned Parenthood, the House Republican leadership has launched an outrageous assault on the millions of Americans who rely on Planned Parenthood for primary and preventive health care, including lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, family planning visits, birth control, HIV testing, and more."

Pro-life groups, predictably, took more cheerful notice of the House action, hailing it as an historic vote. "We are very grateful to the House of Representatives and its leadership for listening to the American people," said Penney Nance, CEO of the Concerned Women for America. "Now it's time for the U.S. Senate to follow suit and finally cut off all federal funding to an organization that ... is willing to aid and abet sex traffickers," Nance said in apparent reference to a recently published video showing a Planned Parenthood employee advising someone posing as a pimp on getting tests for sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptives, and abortions for underage prostitutes.

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"With all due apologies to sludge," wrote Gene Lalor at American Conservative Daily.com, "the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, PP, has reached a whole new sludgy low with what can only be described as a how-to guide for pimps on the best methods of conducting their child sex slave trade."

The debate in the House on the Pence amendment centered on the Title X program that provides aid for family planning and "reproductive health" for low-income families, as well as "abortion rights" and the merits of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest provider of abortions. New York Democrat Louise Slaughter called the proposed cuts "the opening salvo in an all-out war on women's health." Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) talked about her own abortion and said the debate had "put my stomach in knots."

"There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood and it was played out in this room tonight,"  said Speier, while suggesting the attention of the House ought to be focused on other issues. "The American people, if they are listening, are scratching their heads and wondering, 'What does this have to do with me getting a job? What does this have to do with reducing the deficit?' And the answer is nothing at all," Speier said.

Photo: Rep. Mike Pence