The Senate passed a bill Thursday that gives states permissions to hold back federal funds set for family planning from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
And in a rare occasion, it was Vice President Mike Pence who made the tie-breaking vote that will now stop states from accessing Title X family planning money.
The vote was at a 50-50 tie because Republicans Senator. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined all Senate Democrats to oppose the bill. And so our Vice President, who ironically gave a speech at a women’s empowerment conference on Wednesday, hurried down to the Capitol to cast his vote.
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Don’t get it twisted: this move is a direct attack on Planned Parenthood and women’s health.
“Mike Pence went from yesterday’s forum on empowering women to today leading a group of male politicians in a vote to take away access to birth control and cancer screenings,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement. “There’s a reason they could barely get enough votes to get this bill through a procedural step: People are sick and tired of politicians making it even harder for them to access health care, and they will not stand for it.”
Planned Parenthood serves about a third of the 40 million Title X patients, using the $70 million a year it receives in family planning grants to provide contraception, STD screenings and treatments for many people who can’t afford them. The Title X federal grant program subsidizes these health benefits for many uninsured Americans.
Most importantly, Title X money cannot be used to pay for abortions. But Republicans still oppose giving grants to organizations that offer abortion services.
Thirteen Republican-controlled states restricted the family planning grants to Planned Parenthood before the Obama administration issued a regulation in late December that bans states from blocking Title X family planning grants to Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that offer abortion.
One step forward, two steps backwards!