Washington House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that Republicans will move to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood as part of the process they are using early this year to dismantle Obamacare. Ryan made the announcement during a news conference on Capitol Hill.
Congressional Republicans have tried for years to remove Planned Parenthood from federal funding because the group provides abortion services. The issue triggered a 16-day government shutdown in 2013 and another effort to defund the group will surely cause another high-profile battle. It could be a tough vote for some moderate Republicans such as Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski who have opposed past efforts.
The vast majority of federal money that Planned Parenthood receives goes towards providing preventive health care, birth control, pregnancy tests, breast cancer screening and other womens health care services. Democrats point out that much of the money the group received is through the Medicaid program, which reimburses health care clinics that provide care to those covered by the federal program.
Under the “Hyde amendment” that is attached to annual funding bills, no federal money is allowed to go to programs that include abortion services, unless they are needed to preserve the life of the mother or are caused by rape.
Democrats immediately denounced the news that Republicans again were working to bar future federal funds for Planned Parenthood.
“This is a priority for the Republicans,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday afternoon. “So I just would like to speak individually to women across America: this is about respect for you, for your judgment about your personal decisions in terms of your reproductive needs, the size and timing of your family or the rest, not to be determined by the insurance company or by the Republican ideological right-wing caucus in the House of Representatives. So this is a very important occasion where we’re pointing out very specifically what repeal of the (Affordable Care Act) will mean to woman.”
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said “it’s likely no accident that this attack was launched the day after Vice President-elect Mike Pence, a long-time opponent of Planned Parenthood, held a closed-door meeting with Speaker Ryan and the Republican leadership.”