This article appeared online at The Hill on March 16, 2011.
Senate Democrats show united support for Planned Parenthood
By Julian Pecquet
Nineteen Senate Democrats signed onto a letter to Vice-President Joe Biden Wednesday vowing to defeat Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood through the budget process.
House Republicans had tacked a rider onto their budget bill for the rest of the fiscal year prohibiting any federal funds from being used to fund the nation’s largest abortion provider, but it was defeated in the Senate. Stop-gap spending bills since then have not included the waiver.
The senators don’t spell out that they’ll reject out of hand any bill that would cut funding for Planned Parenthood, but they come close.
“We wanted to offer our support in rejecting the ideological, divisive riders passed by the House of Representatives,” they write, “which serve only a purely political agenda.”
The senators say the rider would “effectively shut down health centers that serve three million women each year and provide nearly one million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer, more than 830,000 breast exams and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.”
Republicans have so far not shown as much unity on the other side of the issue, despite coming under intense pressure from anti-abortion groups such as the Susan B. Anthony List and the Family Research Council.
“If Congress can’t cut off taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, a willing partner of the exploitation of women and young girls, how can it be serious about cutting spending anywhere else?” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement this week. “The time to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood is not next week, or in three weeks, or in a month, it’s now. Ending taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood in both short-term and long-term Continuing Resolution bills is a non-negotiable.”
A handful of individual lawmakers have committed to that position.
“We need to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, and we need to defund ObamaCare,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in a statement Monday.
And freshman Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) recently told The Hill that the continuing resolution “omits many of the priorities the American people demanded we pass,” including the elimination of some EPA regulations, repealing healthcare and defunding Planned Parenthood.
The letter was co-signed by Sens. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).