Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., offered legislation today to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, thus reviving a fight from the last Congress that had Republicans and Democrats talking about a government shut down.
“As a woman, I believe America deserves better than abortion,” Blackburn said in a statement on her bill. “America shouldn’t celebrate abortion and our taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, who profit from the destruction of human life with taxpayer money. It’s fiscally irresponsible and morally indefensible.”
The bill would “prohibit family planning grants from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions.” Blackburn’s office cites a 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office saying that Planned Parenthood — the largest abortion provider in the country — receives $340 million from the Department of Health and Human Services under Title X, which provides funding for family planning services.
In 2011, Democrats said they would shut down the government rather than pass an appropriations bill that cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
“We agreed on a number [of spending cuts],” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor at the time. “But we are not — we are not! — bending on women’s health.”
Republicans ultimately scrapped the provision, but talk of a government shut down is already growing as they prepare to fight for spending cuts when President Obama asks Congress to raise the debt ceiling.
“We Republicans need to be willing to tolerate a temporary partial government shutdown –which is what that could mean — and insist that we get off the road to Greece because that’s the road we’re on right now,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said Wednesday.
Planned Parenthood says that the federal money does not pay for abortions. “[T]he idea that tax dollars fund abortion is not true,” the organization Gulf Coast affiliate says. “Every dollar from the federal government that Planned Parenthood receives pays for lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, family planning visits, annual exams, testing for HIV and other STIs, and other kinds of basic care.”
Opponents observe that money is fungible, “meaning that every dollar the government gives Planned Parenthood for family planning services, STI and HIV prevention and treatment, and cancer screening ‘frees up’ money for it to spend on abortion care.”
Even Planned Parenthood concedes that it’s important to have abortion services provided by the same organization that provides those other services.
“Health care should be streamlined and coordinated, so women can go to a trusted health care provider that provides the full range of reproductive health care,” Planned Parenthood says in response to the question, “Why doesn’t Planned Parenthood just split into two separate groups, one that provides abortions, and one that provides everything else?”