Republicans Call for an End to Planned Parenthood’s Federal Funding

Andy Birkey

Congressional Republicans took the floor last week to call for the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood because the network of reproductive health care clinics offer abortion services.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood last
Wednesday. In a "special order" floor speech organized by Bachmann and
Chris Smith, R-N.J., Bachmann called for an end to any federal money
for the network of reproductive health care clinics because Planned
Parenthood offers abortion services.

"If you’ve got 882 clinics, you have $1 billion a year in annual
revenue, and $330 million of that comes from taxpayer funding, I think
that shows pretty clearly they are big business. They are the Wal-Mart
of big abortion. They’re the big box retailer," Bachmann told fellow
members of the House. "It is time to end their tax-exempt status. It’s
a fraud. And it’s time to stop the public financing of Planned
Parenthood. It’s the right thing to do."

Tim Stanley, executive director of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North
Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) Action Fund, took issue with Bachmann’s
characterization. "Planned Parenthood does more in one day to prevent
unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion than politicians like
Michele Bachmann do in a lifetime,” said Stanley.

Indeed, Planned Parenthood offers a range of services in addition to
abortion services, including those that prevent the need for abortion:
access to birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy options
counseling, sexuality education, and vasectomies and tubal ligations.
Those services are in addition to a range of other reproductive health
services such as screening for breast, cervical and testicular cancers;
pregnancy testing; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted
diseases; and menopause treatments.

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“In spite of what Michelle Bachmann says, Planned Parenthood served
nearly 65,000 people last year," said Stanley. "What this means is that
more Minnesotans than ever are in need of health care services, and
PPMNS is the safety net health care provider they turn to for the care
they need. Nearly 76 percent of PPMNS patients are very low-income and
likely to qualify for public insurance programs."

Those services are offered to men and women who might not otherwise
have access to or be able to afford birth control and other
reproductive health services.

Planned Parenthood’s expansion into more affluent areas is what triggered Bachmann’s heightened voice in the abortion debate.

The Wall Street Journal
reported last month that Planned Parenthood has rebranded its operation
and had opened express centers in several affluent Minneapolis-St. Paul
suburbs.

"Well, let me tell you, they’ve made a decision, Planned Parenthood,
that they are going to go after the affluent. How do I know that? It’s
happening in my district, and it was detailed in this article," said
Bachmann. "It said three express centers [opening] in wealthy Minnesota
suburbs and shopping centers and malls, places where women are already
doing their grocery shopping, picking up their Starbucks, living their
daily lives."

Bachmann continued, "Do we understand what this is? This is to promote
women, to promote that woman intentionally take the lives of their
unborn children," she said. "We are asking God-fearing Americans to
subsidize this brutal and bloody procedure on a regular business in
upscale shopping malls all across the United States."

Despite Bachmann’s assertion, the Wall Street Journal makes clear that
abortion services are not being offered in "upscale shopping malls."
The article says that the mall sites in Minnesota offer "services
limited to birth-control counseling and tests for pregnancy or sexually
transmitted infections. Most patients are in and out in less than half
an hour."

News Law and Policy

Federal Judge Guts Florida GOP’s Omnibus Anti-Choice Law

Teddy Wilson

"For many people, Planned Parenthood is the only place they can turn to,” said Barbara Zdravecky, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. “We may be the only place they can go in their community, or the only place that offers the screening or birth control method they need. No one should have their basic health care taken away."

A federal judge on Thursday permanently blocked two provisions of a Florida omnibus anti-choice law that banned Planned Parenthood from receiving state funds and required annual inspections of all clinics that provide abortion services, reported the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued an order in June to delay implementation of the law.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that a government cannot prohibit indirectly—by withholding otherwise-available public funds—conduct that the government could not constitutionally prohibit directly,” Hinkle wrote in the 25-page ruling.  

Thursday’s decision came after Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration decided not to pursue further legal action to defend the law, and filed a joint motion to end the litigation.

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Hinkle issued a three page decision making the injunction permanent.

HB 1411, sponsored by Rep. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland), was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature in March.

The judge’s ruling nixed provisions in the law that banned state funding of abortion care and required yearly clinic inspections. Other provisions of the law that remain in effect include additional reporting requirements for abortion providers, redefining “third trimester,” and revising the care of fetal remains.

The GOP-backed anti-choice law has already had a damaging effect in Palm Beach County, where Planned Parenthood was forced to end a program that focused on teen dropout prevention.

Barbara Zdravecky, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said in a statement that the ruling was a “victory for thousands of Floridians” who rely on the organization for reproductive health care.

“For many people, Planned Parenthood is the only place they can turn to,” Zdravecky said. “We may be the only place they can go in their community, or the only place that offers the screening or birth control method they need. No one should have their basic health care taken away.”

A spokesperson for Scott told Reuters that the administration is “reviewing” the decision.

News Family Planning

Judge Thwarts Ohio GOP’s Attack on Planned Parenthood Funding

Michelle D. Anderson

“This law would have been especially burdensome to communities of color and people with low income who already often have the least access to care—this law would have made a bad situation worse,” said Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.

An effort to defund Ohio Planned Parenthood affiliates by Gov. John Kasich (R) and the Republican-held legislature has come to an end.

Judge Michael R. Barrett of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio on Friday ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor, granting a permanent injunction on an anti-choice state law.

The court ruling will keep Richard Hodges, the Ohio Department of Health director, from enforcing HB 294.

The 2015 law, sponsored by Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) and Rep. Margaret Conditt (R-Butler County), would have redirected $1.3 million in state and federal taxpayer funds from Planned Parenthood’s 28 clinics in Ohio.

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The law would have required the state department to keep federal funds and materials that the health department receives from being distributed to entities that perform or promote non-therapeutic abortions, or maintain affiliation with any entity that does.

Funding that would’ve been cut off from the state health department went to the Violence Against Women and Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention acts, the Infertility Prevention Project, Minority HIV/AIDS and Infant Mortality Reduction initiatives, and the Personal Responsibility Education Program.

Planned Parenthood in a lawsuit argued that the Republican legislation violated the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Barrett had temporarily blocked the law after Planned Parenthood affiliates filed the lawsuit and requested a preliminary injunction. The judge had issued an opinion contending that some legislators passed the law to make it difficult for people to access abortion care, as Rewire reported.

Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, praised the judge’s temporary order.

“This law would have been especially burdensome to communities of color and people with low income who already often have the least access to care—this law would have made a bad situation worse,” Harvey said in a statement.

Kellie Copeland, NARAL Pro Choice Ohio’s executive director, said in a statement that the Ohio legislature passed the anti-choice measure in an effort to appeal to conservative voters in early primary states during Kasich’s presidential campaign.

Copeland said that while the legislation made no effort to reduce the number of abortions performed, “it actively blocked critical health care for low-income women and families.”

Planned Parenthood said those services included 70,000 free STD screenings, thousands of HIV tests for at-risk community residents, and the largest infant mortality prevention program in the state.

In the 23-page court order and opinion, Barrett, an appointee of President George W. Bush, acknowledged that the law would have deterred “patients from seeking these potentially life-saving services.”

Planned Parenthood noted that the recent ruling in Ohio makes it among the ten states where courts have blocked anti-choice laws following June’s landmark Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

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