Today, Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate on a bill that allows states to withhold Title X family planning money from Planned Parenthood. This overturns an Obama administration rule–and also takes rights away from women in the process, reducing safe access to services Planned Parenthood offers besides abortion (like pap smears), thus, endangering women’s health and their livelihood.
Because apparently, in Mike Pence’s world, women can’t make decisions about their own body–or receive health care.
Just last month, the House passed a resolution disapproving the Health and Human Services rule, which Obama put in place before he left office as a way to stop states from defunding Planned Parenthood. Since Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted with Democrats to uphold the rule, it left a tie, meaning that Pence (who ironically gave the keynote speech at the 2017 AIPAC convention), voted with Republicans to break that tie. No big surprise there. The vote especially affects low-income women who can’t afford treatment elsewhere–or don’t have access to gynecological health care.
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, stated how despicable this move was on Pence’s part:
“Mike Pence went from yesterday’s forum on empowering women to today leading a group of male politicians in a vote to take away access to birth control and cancer screenings. There’s a reason they could barely get enough votes to get this bill through a procedural step: People are sick and tired of politicians making it even harder for them to access health care, and they will not stand for it.”
Meanwhile, Senator Patty Murray also explained how devastating this would be for women:
“Taking resources away from these providers, which this resolution would do, would be cruel, and it would have [the] greatest impact on women and families who need it the most. And it would undo a valuable effort by the Obama administration to ensure that health care providers are evaluated for federal funding based on their ability to provide the services in question, not on ideology.”
Just as a recap, the Title X federal grant program, which was created by President Richard Nixon in 1970, subsidizes health care and family planning services for 4 million low-income Americans. Planned Parenthood provides services to about a third of Title X patients. According to NPR, the oroganization uses about $70 million a year it gets in grants to provide birth control and STI tests.
Also: “Title X does not allow federal funds to be used for abortions. Medicaid, however, does allow government money to be spent on them — in very restricted cases.” So, it basically just seems like Republicans want to defund any program that offers abortions, even if there are other life-saving treatments being provide.
The ironic thing is the fact that organizations like Planned Parenthood don’t “disregard human life” as Senators Joni Ernst and Representative Diane Black say, but uphold it. No, it values women’s lives enough to prevent ovarian cancer, provide STI screenings, and more.
For me personally, Planned Parenthood has been life-changing–as I’ve received birth control and underwent an abortion there–while I was in college and working several jobs to provide for myself. Because of that, I was able to go to grad school and eventually start working and advancing in my field and pursuing my passions.
It gave me my life.