Congressional House Republicans on Friday passed a measure to end government funding for Planned Parenthood, moving the country one step closer to another disastrous government shutdown and reaffirming their party’s commitment to attacking women’s health with no regard for the consequences.
The House voted along party lines to clear the legislation, which would immediately stop federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health care for low-income women. Since Democrats have the votes to block the measure in the Senate, and President Obama has promised to veto any spending bill that doesn’t fund Planned Parenthood, the proposal isn’t likely to become law — but the partisan impasse it has created could lead to a repeat of 2013, when Republicans shut down the government in an unsuccessful attempt to defund Obamacare.
Apparently emboldened by a series of now-debunked undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood, GOP lawmakers have threatened to stop at nothing in their quest to shut down the health care organization — even if that means shutting down the entire U.S. government to get what they want. As of last week, 31 House Republicans had signed on to a Heritage Action pledge promising to do whatever is necessary to “fully defund Planned Parenthood” and vowing to oppose any resolution or appropriation bill that does not accomplish this objective. Also last week, the House Freedom Caucus — a separate group of 42 conservative members known for obstructing the political process — took up an official position on the issue, pledging to “oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood.”
If Congress can’t pass a clean spending bill — one without unreasonable last-minute demands like defunding a major provider of low-cost health care for millions of Americans based on “evidence” from fraudulent videos — by the end of September, the government will shut down on October 1.
The 2013 shutdown didn’t go well for Republicans, and the backlash against the GOP would likely be worse this time around. That’s because, outside of the right-wing echo chamber, Planned Parenthood is a respected and trusted organization that most Americans view positively. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released at the end of August, 69 percent of the general public, including more than half of Republican voters, are opposed to efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Another Quinnipiac poll from August found that “a plurality of voters would blame Republicans in Congress for a government shutdown this fall.”
Yet, with a budget showdown looming and less than two weeks to go until the deadline, Republicans are still forging ahead with their baseless attacks on Planned Parenthood and “have not even begun to talk about how to avoid a shutdown,” according to the Huffington Post.
It’s important to remember that not a single dollar of federal funding goes to supporting Planned Parenthood’s abortion services in the first place — that’s already prohibited under the Hyde Amendment. And ironically, shutting down the government would not cut off Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, since most of it comes in the form of mandatory Medicaid reimbursements for treating low-income patients. Nor would Planned Parenthood cease operations in the event of a government shutdown.
But the real irony of this situation is that if Republicans did successfully defund Planned Parenthood, they wouldn’t just limit women’s access to preventive health care like cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and STI testing and treatment; they would also prevent millions of women from accessing contraception that prevents unintended pregnancies, 40% of which end in abortion. Take away the organization’s funding and you increase the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country, which means more, not fewer, abortions.
So really, the budget fight comes down to this: A desire to shut down the government and further tarnish the Republican brand (which is exactly what past shutdowns and threatened shutdowns have done) in order to pave the way for more abortions… all to prove just how much they despise abortion.