Women’s health advocates are calling on Congress to maintain funding for Planned Parenthood. They say the federal measure to strip funding is an attack on women.
Representatives from Planned Parenthood were joined by legislators and community leaders at the Capitol to blast Congress for attempting to pull funding from the organization.
Senator Jolie Justus of Kansas City says at least one in four of her constituents depend on Planned Parenthood for well-woman annual checkups, breast exams, pap screenings, HIV testing, contraceptives and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Michelle Trupiano says the federal funding they receive only supports women’s health and contraception — federal law prohibits taxpayer money from going to abortion services. In Missouri, an insurance ban mandates insurance companies cannot pay for them either, meaning all abortions in our state are paid for solely by the patient.
Members of the Missouri House, including Representatives Sarah Lampe, Tishaura Jones, Stacey Newman, Mary Still and others joined in speaking out against pulling any funding.
Trupiano says Planned Parenhood has already had to recover from the loss of state funds. The late Gov. Mel Carnahan had implemented funding for women’s health services but that funding was cut from the budget in 2002.
She says if Congress passes a measure to cut all funding for women’s services, Planned Parenthood will have to shut down or cut hours for more than 500 clinics nationwide. There are 17 clinics in Missouri.
The U.S. Senate will soon decide how to fund the federal government for the rest of 2011. The House of Representatives has asked that $300 million in funding be pulled from Planned Parenthood.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville), represents West Central Missouri.
“Planned Parenthood isn’t about health, it’s about profit,” she told her colleagues on the House floor. “They have a record of preferring abortion over the truth. Certainly, saving $363 million from this abortion provider is a smart and is a right thing to do.”
In the Senate, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a democrat, says “I think we need to make sure women have access to birth control and contraception so that we don’t have unwanted pregnancies…. That’s how we prevent abortions.”
Current funding for 2011 dries up March 5.
McCaskill says she understands cuts need to be made across the board, but contends that House Republicans are only stripping funds from programs that benefit the lower and middle class — only 18 percent of the entire federal budget. She is recommending that defense spending, which makes up a significantly larger chunk, be scaled back as well.
Meanwhile, pro-life supporters continue to bash Planned Parenthood for its role in abortion services.
The American Life League, based in Washington, D.C., issued a press release that says “Planned Parenthood Sets Record for Number of Babies Killed.”
The group says Planned Parenthood committed 332,278 surgical and medical abortions in 2009, “more than in any previous year.” The league points to documentation they say also shows that Planned Parenthood “provided prenatal services to merely 7,021 women and referred 977 for adoption services. These numbers were a 25 percent drop in prenatal care clients and a whopping 59 percent decline in adoption referrals.”