House OKs re­peal of clinic funds rule

Sup­port­ers, mostly Democrats, said the cur­rent rule pro­tects ac­cess to health care for mil­lions of women.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - MATTHEW DALY

WASH­ING­TON — The U.S. House voted Thurs­day to make it eas­ier for states to deny fed­eral fam­ily-plan­ning funds to groups such as Planned Par­ent­hood that also per­form abor­tions.

A rule im­posed by for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion says that states can­not deny fund­ing to clin­ics for rea­sons un­re­lated to their abil­ity to pro­vide ba­sic fam­ily-plan­ning ser­vices. Fed­eral dol­lars can­not be used to pay for abor­tions, ex­cept in re­stricted cir­cum­stances.

Rep. Diane Black of Ten­nessee and other Repub­li­cans said the rule, fi­nal­ized in De­cem­ber, un­fairly re­stricts how states can spend fed­eral fam­ily-plan­ning funds.

“We must re­turn to a point where states are em­pow­ered to make their own health-care de­ci­sions … with­out fear of reprisal from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment,” Black said.

The res­o­lu­tion she spon­sored al­lows states to re­al­lo­cate money tar­geted for fam­ily-plan­ning clin­ics to other, more com­pre­hen­sive providers such as com­mu­nity health cen­ters, Black said.

Sup­port­ers, mostly Democrats, said the cur­rent rule pro­tects ac­cess to health care for mil­lions of women.

“De­spite their prom­ise to fo­cus on jobs and the econ­omy, Repub­li­can lead­ers have made at­tack­ing women’s health care their top pri­or­ity dur­ing the 115th Congress,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.

Re­peal­ing the rule would leave fam­ily-plan­ning clin­ics across the coun­try vul­ner­a­ble to Repub­li­can-backed ef­forts at the state level to strip them of fund­ing, DeGette said. “Sadly, if the roll­back of this pro­gram suc­ceeds, those who will suf­fer most are the unin­sured, peo­ple with low in­comes, and those living in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas,” she said.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said a ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans op­pose giv­ing tax dol­lars to Planned Par­ent­hood.

“Planned Par­ent­hood is ‘ Child Abuse Inc.,’” Smith said, cit­ing se­cretly recorded videos show­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion of­fi­cials dis­cussing fe­tal tis­sue do­na­tion. Sev­eral con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions of Planned Par­ent­hood failed to re­veal any­thing il­le­gal.

The re­peal mea­sure, ap­proved 230-188, now goes to the Se­nate. Democrats Daniel Lip­in­ski of Illi­nois and Collin Peter­son of Min­nesota sup­ported re­peal, while Repub­li­cans John Faso of New York and Char­lie Dent of Penn­syl­va­nia op­posed it. Ar­kan­sas’ four Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tives sup­ported it.

Planned Par­ent­hood Pres­i­dent Ce­cile Richards said GOP “ex­trem­ists” are try­ing to make it eas­ier for state politi­cians to take away women’s health care.

“This is wrong, and it’s not what the Amer­i­can peo­ple want,” Richards said in a state­ment. “When Congress goes home next week, they can count on hear­ing from peo­ple at their of­fices, the cor­ner store and every town hall.”

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