In a press conference on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Congress is planning to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funds as part of its repeal of the Affordable Care Act, known also as Obamacare. The federal defunding measure would be part of a bill expected to pass Congress as early as next month. (The bill does not address state-specific funding).
“Planned Parenthood legislation would be in our reconciliation bill,” Ryan said in the press conference, without specifically expanding upon what that would entail.
The legislation in question would be part of a “reconciliation” bill, or a bill that bypasses a filibuster by the Senate and needs only a simple majority, rather than a 60-vote supermajority, to pass.
In spite of efforts by the Obama administration to protect Planned Parenthood from being defunded, the women’s health services provider has been under siege by Republican groups for years.
According to The Washington Post, Planned Parenthood estimates that if the bill passes, 40 percent of its funding will be at risk. In 2014, the group received $553 million in federal funds, none of which could legally be used for abortion services. As well as abortion services and birth control access, Planned Parenthood provides general health services for men and women that includes flu vaccinations, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, help quitting smoking, and physical exams.
“Two and a half million women, men and young people come through our doors every year for lifesaving care like cancer screenings, birth control, and STI and STD tests,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “They cannot afford to have basic reproductive healthcare attacked.”
House Democrats quickly responded to Ryan’s announcement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday: “This is a priority for the Republicans. So I just would like to speak individually to women across America: This is about respect for you, for your judgment about your personal decisions in terms of your reproductive needs, the size and timing of your family or the rest, not to be determined by the insurance company or by the Republican ideological right-wing caucus in the House of Representatives. So this is a very important occasion where we’re pointing out very specifically what repeal of the (Affordable Care Act) will mean to women.”