Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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A 2015 reconcilia­tion bill that repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act also included language defunding Planned Parenthood.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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