House votes to block all funding from Planned Parenthood

Because they’re so “pro-life,” of course.

By law, federal funds haven’t paid for abortions since the 1970s, so the House hasn’t voted to cut abortion funding. They’re cutting funding for the entire Title X program — funding for contraception, cancer screening, STI tests, sex education, mammograms, HIV testing and diagnosis, and pregnancy screening and counseling. Title X is the only federal program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and preventive health services, particularly low-income families. Last year, 5 million people benefited from the services funded by Title X.

Planned Parenthood is the target of this legislation, and American women the primary victims. This isn’t about abortion — it’s about cutting access to health care for women. One in five American women has used Planned Parenthood’s services. The vast majority of care — more than 90% — offered at Planned Parenthood health centers is preventative. Every year, Planned Parenthood carries out nearly one million screenings for cervical cancer — screenings which save lives. Every year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses give more than 830,000 breast exams — exams which save lives. Every year, nearly 2.5 million patients receive contraception from Planned Parenthood — a service which prevents enormous numbers of unintended pregnancies and, by extension, an enormous number of abortions. Every year, Planned Parenthood administers nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV — tests and treatments which save lives, extend lives, preserve fertility, and maintain reproductive health.

That’s what “pro-lifers” in Congress are against: Health care access for the poor. Health care access for women. This is not, and has never been, about abortion. It’s certainly not about affirming “life.” It’s about an ongoing assault on women’s lives, and the lives of lower-income women in particular. It’s shameful. Stand with Planned Parenthood.

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49 comments for “House votes to block all funding from Planned Parenthood

  1. Marie
    February 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    This has made me sick to the stomach. I signed the petition and even called my representative. I don’t know what else to do. Shame on those who voted to strip women of health care!

    What I’d really like to know is who voted for it?

  2. gretel
    February 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Everyone in NYC: Planned Parenthood is having a rally on February 26th about these issues. Here’s the info:

    If you’re able to attend, please do so! I can’t, because I’ll be volunteering at that same time, but I’ll be there in spirit.

    (I realize the language of the rally poster is ableist and not gender-neutral.)

  3. February 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    This is probably because I’m just a baby feminist and haven’t read enough, but I really don’t understand what purpose this serves at all. Why don’t they want women to have proper health care?

  4. February 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Amadei: This is probably because I’m just a baby feminist and haven’t read enough, but I really don’t understand what purpose this serves at all. Why don’t they want women to have proper health care?  

    I think it’s ideological in many respects. Planned Parenthood represents the evils of abortion (and bodily autonomy for the en-uterused among us), and therefore, for the purposes of cognitive consistency, it must be stopped. It can also be politically strategic, depending on the attitudes of the (perceived to be) relevant voting public.

    Actual consequences for real people are beside the point.

    also, UGH.

    • February 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      Amadei, it’s part of a larger world view about women’s roles (and gender roles generally). They’ll say it’s about abortion, and that giving Planned Parenthood funding for things like cervical cancer screenings allows them to use their non-government funding for abortions. But it’s not just that. No “pro-life” group that I know of is in favor of contraception access or use. Their view on women’s bodies is, basically, you exist to get married and make babies. STD testing shouldn’t be necessary because you should only have sex with your husband; contraception shouldn’t be necessary because you should have as many babies as God gives you; etc. Hence their hatred of all health care that serves women.

  5. Jim
    February 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Amadei: but I really don’t understand what purpose this serves at all.

    Jadey is right, and it’s more than just abortion. Planned Parentage has been around a while, but it really became well-known in the early 60’s. This is about turning back the Sexual Revolution and the “collapse of the family” and taking us back to the good old even further back days before unions and restive dark people and all that.

  6. K__
    February 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Planned Parenthood offers more than abortion services. The article you linked to says that title X doesn’t even cover the abortion services. This isn’t about abortion…

    In defunding Title X, won’t this also impact the other services Planned Parenthood can offer, like diagnosing & treating vaginitis and urinary tract infections? I cannot determine from the wording whether these services are covered by Title X as well. That might seem relatively minor, but an untreated urinary tract infection can potentially lead to kidney damage. I’ve heard from some women with chronic pelvic pain who have used Planned Parenthood’s services as well. But if they’re losing an enormous chunk of funding, there won’t be as much to go around for stuff like that too, right?

    How is this going to lead to more jobs? I thought, remind me now, I thought that Republicans took control of the House in 2010 in part because there was some kind of platform of jobs & fiscal responsibility. This isn’t going to add to more jobs & it isn’t going to save a significant amount of $, especially in the long run, what with folks holding off on going to get medical treatments because it’s going to get too expensive to go without the federal support in place.

  7. February 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    My immediate reaction to this was to drop on the floor kicking and screaming, “NO! No, no, no, no, no, no, NO!” My second reaction was to wonder what good it even does to have a nominally progressive president and get really depressed. My final reaction is to groan and crawl back into bed.

    • February 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      My second reaction was to wonder what good it even does to have a nominally progressive president and get really depressed.

      Well, it does a lot of good if/when he refuses to sign the bill into law, and if/when the still nominally Democratic Senate doesn’t pass it.

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  9. Q Grrl
    February 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Does anyone know off the top of their heads what the gender breakdown is of the House? (I’m being lazy, I know…)


  10. Boy Mulcaster
    February 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    They don’t have the votes in the House to override Obama’s inevitable veto, and they certainly don’t have 67 votes in the Senate. What difference does this really make either way?

  11. Frowner
    February 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    And I would add that serious conservatives are against services for low income people in general. If you can’t afford it, it’s because you’re a bad, weak person; if you were a good person, you’d be well off. And things like the minimum wage and collective bargaining allow the bad, weak people to get things they don’t deserve, like eight-hour days and a living wage.

    This is fundamentally about the love of inequality–inequality isn’t just an accident or something sad but inevitable, it is a social good: men over women, whites over people of color, rich over poor, native-born over immigrants. Inequality is good because it allows the virtuous, strong and godly to rise to the top, while punishing the bad lazy heathen. In this case, poor women expressly should not have cheap health care or control over their fertility, because they do not deserve the freedom this grants them; they should be forced into marriages and low-wage work as much as possible.

  12. Lynnsey
    February 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    It makes a difference in that the radical conservative fringe feels bold enough to make the kind of sweeping national attack on women and their health care choices.

    (Sorry, can’t get this quote where it belongs on my phone)

    Boy Mulcaster: They don’t have the votes in the House to override Obama’s inevitable veto, and they certainly don’t have 67 votes in the Senate. What difference does this really make either way?  

  13. February 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    My heart fell when I read this and I’m frustrated as hell that none of the petitions will let me sign because I don’t live in the U.S. It’s well-known that policy that affects the U.S. affects Canada, being America’s hat and all.. and shit.. it just bugs me that such effed-up ideologies have to affect anyone at ALL.

    But Jill, you hit the nail on the head. It’s not about abortion. It’s war on women, war on our rights to our bodies and war on the low class. and it makes me sick.

    This kind of Handmaid’s Tale B.S. scares the hell out of me.

  14. SunlessNick
    February 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Does anyone know of an international petition?

  15. Cha-Cha
    February 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    This sucks.

    @ Gretal thank you for that information. I will be out of the US at that time. I will send the action alert about the rally to everyone in the US I know.

    Does anyone have any info on a phone # for the Democratic National Committee? I am really pissed that they continue to ask for my support, and then place all the blame for this on Republicans, failing to acknowledge the 10 Democrats behind this. They use the human rights of women as a political football to rope us in, and then they betray us. It’s bullsh*t.

    But when I go to their website to complain, all I get is a bullsh*t internet form. I’ve used it, but: does anyone have a phone number? I think the DNC should hear from us also. No Democrat should have stood behind this measure.

  16. Tori
    February 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    They don’t have the votes in the House to override Obama’s inevitable veto, and they certainly don’t have 67 votes in the Senate. What difference does this really make either way?

    240 people — 240 national elected officials — have just demonstrated that they hate me (and others who’ve depended on PP) and don’t think we’re deserving of sexual and reproductive health care.

    Like, they’re not talking about it quietly in corners anymore. They’re putting it to a public vote.

  17. Norinemu
    February 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I am absolutely horrified. I am signing all the petitions and letters I’m getting from Planned Parenthood right now to try to fight this.

  18. Carol Teater
    February 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Jill, I have heard the thing you mentioned is one of their big rationalizations: If the government gives money to PP for general reproductive health services, then PP can use money they collect from private sources to fund their abortion services–therefore, the government is funding abortion.

    These ppl are such sleazes. And to make it worse, Pence is from my state, IN (which is currently working to deny rights to queer folk in as many ways and on as many levels as they can). Geez…

  19. February 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Let’s face it, many of the GOP reps are ideological entrepreneurs, making a living off of hatred and fear.

    I don’t think they think this will become law — they may not have the votes for the Senate to pass it, or even be able to get it to the Senate floor where Dem leadership has more tools. Even if they did, they’d either need Obama to sign it, or they’d need to override. I expect the former is pretty unlikely, though I’ve never trusted him one iota. The latter ain’t gonna happen.

    So if it’s not going to become law, why do it?

    Well, if you’re a white male GOP conservative (aren’t they all?), a pointless and symbolic vote to cut PP funding is the best of all worlds. They can tell their rabit anti-women followers that tried to kill PP. They can tell their “I hate giving government money to people I consider my social inferiors” supporters that they tried to slash government spending on the Other. And they don’t have to live with the backlash that would happen if they actually accomplished their goal, which might really mobilize our side — at least they think they don’t.

    The thing is, so far, it has been cost-free for the GOP to try women-hating, radical things and fail. They try, they fail, they curry favor with their nastiest supporters and our side shakes off the dust and gets ready for the next battle. They’ll only stop if the cost of supporting this vicious shit actually stays around for the next election cycle; if it threatens to get them primaried from the center, get their opponent funded in the general, or hurts them with the leadership in Washington.

    But I’m not enough of a political strategist to have a good handle on how to make these radical shots at reproductive freedom cost them.

  20. William
    February 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    This isn’t about abortion…

    Part of me suspects that it might be. I spent a fair bit of my misspent youth in the conservative camp (though I’ve always been pro-choice) and I sometimes wonder if many people on the left really understands how the hardcore right thinks. Phrases like “starving leviathan” have been a big part of the small government discourse for a long time, and I think that a similar idea might be at play here.

    See, conservatives (especially their leaders) aren’t fools. They tend to be good at strategy, they understand how to wield power and influence in order to get what they want. Thats how the abortion fight has been fought for years: if they can’t ban abortion outright they’ll use a series feints that seem reasonable to your average politically ignorant voter that have the cumulative effect of making abortion inaccessible. The more inaccessible abortion is the fewer women have visible access. The fewer women who have visible access the more stigma increases. The more stigma increases the easier it becomes to make bolder incremental movements towards a de facto ban.

    Thats what I think we’re seeing here. If you kill title X funding you deal a real blow to Planned Parenthood. Clinics will likely close, sliding scales will slide less, and resources that might be used for activism instead have to be spent on providing care. That makes Planned Parenthood weaker and has the effect of driving down access to abortion by putting pressure on an already stressed organization. The phones ring a little longer and someone hangs up and calls a crisis pregnancy center, a clinic closes here or there due to lack of general funding and women have to travel that much further for an abortion (putting it out of reach for some), Planned Parenthood ends up spending more on giving women access to health care and so they aren’t able to publicize or fight future attacks on reproductive rights. Conservatives are used to fighting incremental battles, they are very good at bleeding their opponents out rather than winning in the first round.

    What these House Republicans are saying with this vote is that they are so passionately opposed to abortion that they are willing to kill women in order to hurt an organization which is in any way involved in providing access to abortion.

  21. February 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Q Grrl, 78 women in the House, I think, and 18 in the Senate.

  22. February 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    PS what would it take for a group of billionaires to endow PP so that it could sustain services indefinately with no taxpayer funding? Just askin’

  23. February 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Fuck off, Republican Party. Fuck off and die.

    I honestly want to say something relevant and important but… I can’t. I just can’t. They’re cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, for condoms and the pill and UTIs and STD tests and in what universe is any of this remotely controversial?

    The only thing this is going to do is increase the number of abortions.

  24. Carolyn
    February 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Scary scary question, but WILL this bill die? Because it is part of the overall spending bill, and Obama has demonstrated an alarming willingness to compromise (see Stupak-Pitts and ensuing executive order). So I am sadly not confident he would veto.
    P.S. Scary fact I encountered while looking up Stupak-Pitts: 46% of Democrats think federally-funded insurance should NOT cover “elective” abortion.

  25. Lu
    February 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    9 (or is it 10?) of them were Democrats. Men. One was Dan Lipinski of Illinois, who also voted against the health-care bill last year.

    Echidne of the Snakes ( has a good post up about this, with a video of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif) speaking out in outrage against the “vendetta against Planned Parenthood” and a quote from another woman Representative. Both of them are in the vein of, “How dare you tell me I only deserve the health care you approve of?” (my words, not theirs).

  26. Mike
    February 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    My support to Planned Parenthood, but doesn’t Title X also provide grants to other family planning and reproductive health care organizations? Would those organizations be defunded as well? This bill targets Planned Parenthood transparently and specifically, but if I understand the law correctly, we need to be concerned about the entire range of organizations that provide reproductive health care services.

  27. Carol Teater
    February 18, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Thomas, I have finally realized that prolly at least 90% of conservative men, esp the religious fundamentalist ones, outright hate women, esp those who don’t live their lives according to old-fashioned social rules.

  28. Juke
    February 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Carolyn, that concern has been on my mind for quite some time now. And what’s worse, he has shown a willingness to even take on some of the Republican’s bullshit talking points, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he justified it by agreeing that tax-payer dollars shouldn’t be used for abortions.

  29. Jacks
    February 18, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    According to PP’s 2009 annual report, they received 33% of their funding from the Government., which is 363.2 million.
    It would be nice if the government did stop funding PP and the people in the communities got together and raised that money.
    I wish we could show the government that we didn’t need their funding.

  30. February 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm


    Well, it does a lot of good if/when he refuses to sign the bill into law, and if/when the still nominally Democratic Senate doesn’t pass it.  

    This is true. At least, I really, really hope it’s true.

  31. J
    February 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    In case anyone’s looking to see whether their representative voted for that amendment, here’s the breakdown. (My old rep voted for it, but I knew she would, because she’s awful.)

  32. rachael
    February 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    how can any Republican say the are Pro-life and yet in same breath be against health care??? I don’t get the logic, if they have any? I live in Nebraska and sad to say our governor cut funding to pre-natal care last year to poor women because he was afraid the small percentage of illegal immragrants would recieve care. Sad that the majority were U.S. born and Nebraska born citizens. It saddens me the religious communities tell a woman to keep her baby. But yet if she does if she’s a teen mom they shun her for doing just that-keeping her baby. Or in any other case once baby is born that woman should not get any assistance to raise that baby. I can’t stand the double standards. I used Planned Parenthood for pap smears until I found a doctor who would take me due to being on medcaid. I know my Rep voted for this bill as I go to church with the nieve man. He is so called Pro-life Catholic. So I know if I voiced my opinion it wouldn’t be heard by him. So I will express it here. I’m grateful that Obama has a veto pen.

  33. Zierra
    February 20, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Wow, I don’t even know where to begin. Reading this I’m so glad that I’m not a (female) U.S citizen, and I feel so sad for all the women over there! I imagine the frustration and anger in being told by your own country that you have no right to your own body, more or less. And that you as a sex doesn’t really matter.
    I know a lot of people in the U.S are terrified of “the socialism”, you can have a conversation with someone that thinks that there’s a lot of crappy things going on with the U.S, but when you get to the subject universal healthcare, they get all defensive and don’t want anything to do with it. Being a Swedish woman living in Sweden I’ve always had access to healthcare, either for free, or for a smaller sum of money. I’m 30 now and I can still go to the gynaecologist for free and get STI tests, cervical cancer check-ups, free pregnancy tests, even get a free abortion if I had to (which I hope I never have to go through, I hear it hurts like %&€£#±). I can’t imagine not having that option. (And if you’re wondering; yes, I rather pay those extra kronor in taxes so I know that if something does happen to me some day, then I don’t have to worry about ending up on the street, or dead because I can’t pay for healthcare).
    Your country is supposed to be one of the most powerful ones in the world, is this how it sees women? The U.S criticizes a lot of other countries for their ass backwards ways, but this is just as bad. I really hope that legislation doesn’t go through and that you get enough people to protest against it!
    Lots of love! /S

  34. Politicalguineapig
    February 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I vote we start referring to the US House of Representatives as the U.S House of Rapists. (‘Cept for Rep. Ellison and McCollum. They’re cool, and Ellison gets enough shit already.)
    I swear if I had enough money, I’d move to Sweden or Canada. I hate being a citizen of the US, and even though I’ve done allll the good citizen pantomimes (jury duty, voting) I don’t think it makes any difference at all. This place deserves a theocracy.

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