De­fund­ing part of GOP’s re­peal

Planned Par­ent­hood tar­get


WASH­ING­TON — Repub­li­cans plan to strip Planned Par­ent­hood of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in federal fund­ing as part of their rapid push to re­peal Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care pol­icy, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thurs­day.

Ryan said a de­fund­ing mea­sure would ap­pear in a spe­cial fast- track bill that is ex­pected to pass Congress as soon as next month: “Planned Par­ent­hood leg­is­la­tion would be in our rec­on­cil­i­a­tion bill,” he said at a news con­fer­ence, in re­sponse to a ques­tion about plans to de­fund the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is a spe­cial con­gres­sional pro­ce­dure al­low­ing leg­is­la­tion to by­pass a Se­nate fil­i­buster, mean­ing it would need only a sim­ply ma­jor­ity of sen­a­tors to pass rather than a 60- vote su­per­ma­jor­ity.

Ryan made his com­ments

two days af­ter a spe­cial in­ves­tiga­tive panel formed by Repub­li­cans is­sued a re­port rec­om­mend­ing that Planned Par­ent­hood, the na­tion’s largest abor­tion provider, lose its ac­cess to Med­i­caid re­im­burse­ments and federal fam­ily- plan­ning funds. The GOP re­port also rec­om­mended the Congress al­low states to ex­clude abor­tion providers from their own Med­i­caid pro­grams.

The group re­ported re­ceiv­ing $ 553 mil­lion in gov­ern­ment fund­ing in 2014, about half of its to­tal rev­enue. Congress has barred federal fund­ing for abor­tions since 1976, but health providers that of­fer abor­tions are el­i­gi­ble to use federal funds for other ser­vices.

The de­fund­ing mea­sure would take away roughly $ 400 mil­lion in Med­i­caid money from the group in the year af­ter en­act­ment, ac­cord­ing to the non­par­ti­san Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice, and would re­sult in roughly 400,000 women los­ing ac­cess to care.

“De­fund­ing Planned Par­ent­hood is dan­ger­ous to peo­ple’s health, it’s un­pop­u­lar, and it would leave peo­ple across the coun­try with­out care,” said Planned Par­ent­hood Pres­i­dent Ce­cile Richards. “They can­not af­ford to have ba­sic re­pro­duc­tive health care at­tacked. Planned Par­ent­hood has been here for 100 years and we’re go­ing to be here for 100 more.”

A 2015 rec­on­cil­i­a­tion bill that re­pealed ma­jor parts of the Af­ford­able Care Act also in­cluded lan­guage de­fund­ing Planned Par­ent­hood. That bill passed both houses of Congress and was ve­toed by Obama.

Repub­li­cans ex­pect Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump to sign the com­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion bill. Trump sent mixed sig­nals dur­ing the cam­paign about the or­ga­ni­za­tion. He said “mil­lions of women are helped by Planned Par­ent­hood,” but he also en­dorsed ef­forts to de­fund the group. Trump once de­scribed him­self as “very prochoice,” but now op­poses abor­tion rights.

Repub­li­cans cur­rently have a 52- 48 Se­nate ma­jor­ity, but it ap­pears it will be a tough task for Democrats to per­suade enough GOP sen­a­tors to op­pose a de­fund­ing bill.

Only two Se­nate Repub­li­cans op­posed the bill when it passed in 2015: Su­san Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illi­nois; Kirk is no longer in the Se­nate, and Collins alone could not block the bill.

Asked Wed­nes­day about party ef­forts to tie the ef­fort to de­fund Planned Par­ent­hood to Af­ford­able Care Act re­peal, Collins said, “that’s of con­cern to me as well, but I don’t want to pre­judge what’s in the … bill.”

Most GOP law­mak­ers have long op­posed Planned Par­ent­hood be­cause many of its clin­ics pro­vide abor­tions. Their an­tag­o­nism in­ten­si­fied af­ter anti- abor­tion ac­tivists re­leased se­cretly recorded videos in 2015 show­ing Planned Par­ent­hood of­fi­cials dis­cussing how they some­times pro­vide fe­tal tis­sue to re­searchers, which is le­gal if no profit is made.

A sup­porter of the de­fund­ing ef­fort said it may not have much of an ef­fect on the num­ber of abor­tions per­formed in the coun­try, but that federal dol­lars to Planned Par­ent­hood indi­rectly sup­port abor­tion.

“A lot of the on­go­ing sup­port in the struc­tural fi­nances for Planned Par­ent­hood goes to build the build­ings, the in­fra­struc­ture that pro­vides abor­tion,” said Sen. James Lank­ford, R- Okla.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Mike De­Bo­nis of The Wash­ing­ton Post and by An­drew Tay­lor of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

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