There’s been another serious blow to Planned Parenthood—and we have Vice President Mike Pence and his evangelical beliefs to thank for it. The day after he attended a White House women’s empowerment lunch, he broke a tie in the Senate to pass a bill allowing states to withhold federal funds from health care clinics like Planned Parenthood.
According to NBC News, the measure would roll back an Obama-era rule that barred states from withholding funds from clinics that also offered abortion services.
It’s pretty rare that the VP has to step in and break a tie, but he had to because two Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voted against the 48 other GOP senators. The Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Senate, NBC pointed out.
Naturally Planned Parenthood spoke out about the legislation, saying that it punishes women who need access to family planning and other health services from clinics that happen to offer abortion services.
“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.”
They were not alone in speaking out against this administration’s oppositional stance on abortion rights:
While Republicans have praised the vote saying that tax payers shouldn’t have to pay for clinics that offer abortions, please know that under the Hyde Amendment not once cent of our taxes are going to fund abortions.
And if you think that this bill won’t affect you, think again.
According to Planned Parenthood, of the 2.1 million people PP served in 2013, more than 370,000 of them were African-American and between the years 2003-2013, Black female participation rose 12 percent and a whopping 126 percent for Black men.
But most important, for many Black women, regardless of socioeconomic and/or insurance status, clinics like PP have been a major force in us receiving quality and culturally competent health care. Yes, PP provides us with family planning counseling and birth control services, but it also does so much more than that. It’s the place where many of us get tested for HIV and the same place where we receive Pap smears, HPV screenings and vaccinations, STD testing and treatment and life-saving breast exams. And as we previously reported, Black women and teens are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy and four times more likely to have an abortion than our white counterparts.
So no, we cannot afford for Planned Parenthood to lose funding; too many of our lives and health depend on these types of clinics.