House Votes to Pull Federal Funding from Planned Parenthood, Does Not Know How to Treat a Woman

As many had feared and/or expected, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted today to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. After an exhaustive debate, the bill passed 240 to 185 this afternoon. Ten Democrats joined the GOP vote, while seven Republicans voted to continue supporting the organization that has provided essential and sometimes lifesaving care to millions of women.

Don’t panic about your ability to get birth control this month, there is virtually zero chance that this bill will also pass in the Senate. In fact, most of the budget proposals made by the House in the last week (cutting NPR and PBS funding for example) won’t ever make it to Obama’s desk. The president has also specifically set aside $372 million for family planning in his 2012 budget.

Planned Parenthood and the services it provides will not actually collapse because of this vote. That’s great, but it’s only a small victory if it could even be characterized as a “victory” at all.

This bill sends an unmistakable message to American women that they don’t matter and that their access to vital reproductive health services is not worthy of the government’s support, let alone protection. I don’t think we’re exaggerating when we say that this measure is a declaration of war against American women.

Just to put this in perspective, the House also voted to continue the program in which the Pentagon funds a NASCAR team. A bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum would have prevented the Pentagon from spending $7 million on NASCAR and $5 million on drag racing, not counting money also spent by the Air Force and Navy on the same thing. That’s right, NASCAR is more important than your right to reproductive health.

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The vote seems especially heartless in light of the testimony of Jackie Speier, the Congresswoman who testified today about her own abortion in front of the entire House and basically the country. Her brave decision to offer up her own personal experience stands in sharp contrast to a the rest of the House, a group that is overwhelmingly disproportionate in its representation of straight white men.

That group decided today that it’s more important to pay for cars to move around a track in the hopes that it somehow inspires more people to join the military.

Combined with the vitriolic and unrelenting attacks on the Affordable Care Act, the GOP has clearly announced a position on the poor or even the not-independently-wealthy of America: your problems are your own fault, and it’s your job to deal with them, regardless of whether you have any resources to do so. But please join the Army to defend this country which begrudgingly houses your body over which you have limited agency!

Let’s be clear that this bill is extremely short sighted and would end up costing the government a bunch of money. According to Planned Parenthood, 35% of their services are contraceptive in nature. Only 3% are abortion. They estimate that their services avert about 612,000 unplanned pregnancies every year. If Planned Parenthood isn’t around to give people access to those contraceptive services, then those unplanned pregnancies wouldn’t be averted and the government and our health care industry are going to be on the hook for all of the costs associated with them.

“Funding family planning saves the government over $3 for every $1 spent on health care and welfare programs,” Gloria Feldt, author and former President of Planned Parenthood, told Tina Dupuy of the East Valley Tribune. “So eliminating family planning programs is the least conservative, most fiscally irresponsible thing they could do.”

If you need any more convincing on why Planned Parenthood is essential for women in this country, please read Riese’s now timely article from last week, “The PP & Me: Why We All Need Planned Parenthood.

Luckily for us, the people fighting for reproductive justice are brave, and hopefully the message sent by the House today will make it only as far as it needs to to incite people to action and to bolster the ranks in this fight. If you’re looking for something to do, signing this petition is a good start, and donating to Planned Parenthood is always great.

There’s also a good post here about who to call and yell at and things you can do besides/in addition to calling people and yelling at them.

Sarah lives in Chicago with her partner and her big white Great Dane. She is a lawyer by day and a beer brewer/bread baker/knitter by night. She & her partner are currently learning how to grow their own food, and eventually they hope to move to a small farm outside the city. In 2009-2010, before jetting off to law school, Sarah was Autostraddle's Managing Editor.

Sarah has written 131 articles for us.

32 Comments

  1. So angry that they passed this. Even if it won’t go into effect.

    WHY?!? Why discourage responsibility? Why try and get more people on welfare? Why cause unwanted pregnancies? Why the fuck won’t these stupid white men listen to their wives? Not to mention the cancer screening that most women would otherwise not have.

  2. Between this, what is happening in Wisconsin and the oral diarrhea from conservatives this week I have become so angry! Seriously? Nascar? Fucking millions of dollars for a car going around a god damned track but women’s health is meaningless? Fuck you GOP.

  3. There are already protests being planned.

    This is horrifying and confusing. I want to sit down with the people who voted to pass this and try to understand how they possibly felt they were doing the right thing by their constituency.

    • Yes, this. I was so horrified I was shaking, and I watched loads of videos of all those women saying NO, DO NOT DO THIS, and I cannot believe that people would be so cruel and hateful. I am so grateful that I am English, where we can have tasteful Marie Stope ads on TV.

  4. Another thing to remember is how much medical care PP brings to people who wouldn’t otherwise receive it. Six out of ten women treated in a PP clinic identify that clinic as their primary source of medical care. And PP’s work in education, prevention and free testing has done a lot toward keeping down the rate of STIs in the US.

    The queer community, historically underserved and in need of culturally competent, affirming care, should be strongly behind PP. We should work to educate those who aren’t clear on the real work that PP does so well, and the vital services they provide– and to make sure that no one who needs ANY of those services has to go without.

    • I think people don’t see this as a queer issue because preventing babehz is something only the breeders have to worry about but PP provides a lot of other things which benefit queer women and men as well as straights – STD testing, HIV testing, and hell, even birth control has uses other than preventing babies, depending on the pill. I take mine primarily to make periods lighter since I get really bad cramps if I don’t. Some also clear up acne or other things.

  5. I feel like the fact that they are trying to cut this, and trying to cut funding to NPR, PBS, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities – but not NASCAR and not defense spending – is designed to send a particular message about who the Republicans consider “Real Americans.” Women who need birth control? No way those slutty slut-sluts can be “Real Americans.” Musicians, artists, writers, actors, professors? “East Coast and/or Hollywood elitists!” and therefore definitely not “Real Americans.” But NASCAR is the epitome of Real America so, of course, that’s what has to say.

    I’m so sick of this argument that it’s about not forcing people to pay for things for which they don’t want to pay. There are TONS of people in this country who, I imagine, aren’t interested in giving tax money to NASCAR or, for that matter, developing another bomb. What they really only care about is what “Real Americans” don’t want to spend money on. As a bisexual, birth-control-using music major, I am an Unperson so my money doesn’t matter. Even my HAVING A JOB doesn’t matter to Republicans.

  6. They spend $12 million per year on NASCAR and drag racing – TWELVE MILLION, and we have a budget problem and a deficit so high that you can’t even fully comprehend the number!? Then, despite sufficient evidence of the work Planned Parenthood does for this country, they decided to vote against funding, because of the pro-choice viewpoint of a portion of the population? Excuse me, um, is this real life?

  7. Pingback: We All Have a Choice in the 2012 Election « Democrats for Progress

  8. PP does very little in the way of helping women other than their abortion mill that could not be provided by others who would not demand federal funding for it. In the tally of how many lives they saved, let’s balance that with how many they killed and see that number looks. Let’s also not forget the rights of the unborn children who could have grown up to be women when we consider benefits to women. Granted abortion is legal and thus is not preventable but Planned Parenthood makes it a way of life as a means of late term birth control. Legal but not a right that needs support from all taxpayers.

    • See erin and Sarah’s posts above.

      “Isn’t there already a stipulation that separates funding for abortions through PP from federal funding?”

      “Yes, none of the federal funding for PP can go to abortions. So this cut will take away money that is going toward contraception, cervical cancer screenings, and other vital procedures.”

      Also see pie charts on this page: http://www.autostraddle.com/planned-parenthood-and-me-76510/
      Government money is 33% of PP’s funding. Cancer screening and prevention, STD testing and treatment, and contraception are 84% of the services provided by PP.

      What is not clear about this? There is no way in which divesting PP of federal funds does not = women (and men) do not deserve sexual education, reproductive health care, contraception, and cancer screenings.

      You say, “PP does very little in the way of helping women other than their abortion mill that could not be provided by others who would not demand federal funding for it.” The first part is obviously false (see above). The second part–what can I say? “Could be provided”? Like saying we don’t need any government welfare programs (including food stamps, etc.) because private charity/free market could provide all that–we have government funding for such things because NOTHING ELSE WAS PROVIDING THEM TO HUGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE WHO NEEDED THEM, EVER. It’s beyond the scope of charities, churches, neighborhoods, and families to provide all these things (though all these can be and are necessary or at least helpful).

      Anyway, government funding for PP is not preventing “others who would not demand federal funding for it” from providing these vital services. I’ll believe it when I see it.

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