Senate Votes Against Defunding Planned Parenthood amid Outcry

The U.S. Senate voted down a measure that would defund Planned Parenthood.

The 42-58 vote on Thursday came just after the U.S. House approved for the second time the legislation that would amend the fiscal year 2011 budget to strip federal Title X funding from Planned Parenthood. The vote took place as part of the budget agreement reached last week between the Democrats and Republicans.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards has called proponents of the bill “extremists” who are attacking “critical health services with a new vote against Planned Parenthood this week.”

PPFA asserts that it provides 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, annually. It also boasts having 1 million cervical cancer screenings and 830,000 breast exams each year.

Those statistics have drawn advocates and supporters to its side.

Last week, Senate Majority Harry Reid went so far as to say supporters of the Planned Parenthood cuts were against women getting the services they need.

This week, actress Scarlett Johansson and other celebrities such as Gabrielle Union and Gwyneth Paltrow are supporting PPFA with television ads. Johansson said of the House's efforts, “The House passed a bill to eliminate our country's family planning program and to stop Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving any federal money to provide life-saving preventative care.”

Penny Nance, the CEO of Concerned Women for America, makes it clear that pro-life advocates are not against women.

“If you look at who is leading the charge on this, it's women,” said Nance.

Women such as Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfeiser, 40 Days for Life advocate and Unplanned author Abby Johnson and Live Action leader Lila Rose have all been vocal against federal funding for Planned Parenthood in the days leading up to the vote.

“We are doing it to protect women,” Nance maintained.

While local PPFA asserts that its clinics offer low income women with health services, Nance noted that 4,500 non-abortion clinics nationwide offer those same services and more.

She called the argument that cutting Title X funds to PPFA will cut women’s services “a smokescreen.”

“The Planned Parenthood brand is one that is truly used to promote abortion,” proclaimed Nance. She quoted PPFA documents which stating that 98 percent of pregnant women who receive services at a Planned Parenthood clinic, receive abortions.

David Bereit, National Campaign Director of 40 Days for Life, also isn't convinced that Planned Parenthood is mainly about health care services.

“[PPFA]’s not about providing health care,” he said. “It’s about abortion.”

Additionally, Nance pointed out that the Title X funds it receives from the federal government for health services are “co-mingled” with the budget for its abortion services operations.

Nance quoted Johnson, a past employee for a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic, in saying that PPFA’s goal is for all of its clinics to perform abortions by 2013. In clinics where health and abortion services are combined, Nance said it is likely that they are using Title X funds to pay the overhead costs for both operations.

“They are indirectly using [federal funds] to pay for abortion,” said Nance.

The Christian Post contacted PPFA for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.

Bereit stressed that PPFA does not need federal funds to operate its clinics. He cited PPFA financial disclosure forms that show it had a surplus of 63.4 million in its budget after FY 2008-2009. The documents show that PPFA has had a surplus for the last five years. He added that if PPFA wants to make up lost federal revenue, it should turn to PPFA’s celebrity supporters.

"They certainly have people with deep pockets that can make up for their expenditures,” said Bereit.

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