Republicans and democrat members of Congress were gridlocked in a debate over the 2012 budget for several weeks. At 11:29pm on April 8th, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a statement announcing the end of the highly debated Federal Budget for 2012. The statement called the budget cuts “historic,” with both political parties agreeing to cut $78.5 billion from the President’s 2011 budget.
One of the most controversial proposed amendments to the budget was the Pence Amendment, which sought to cut Title X funding to Planned Parenthood. Title X provides federal funding for family planning and preventative reproductive health services for low-income individuals. Historically, this funding has saved lives through early detection of cancer, diagnosed, treated and prevented the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), helped families maintain an affordable family size by issuing birth control, and prevented unintended pregnancies and abortions.
Although Planned Parenthood does not utilize government funding to perform abortions, the debate surrounding the Pence Amendment was promptly boiled down to the hot-button issue of abortion by anti-choice republicans. Democrats declared that cutting funding to Planned Parenthood would rob low-income American women of much-needed reproductive healthcare services. Republicans insisted that they were not comfortable with government money being given to an organization that performs abortions, regardless of what the funding actually accomplished.
Women’s rights supporters protested the Pence Amendment across the United States, sending petitions to their representatives and demonstrating at state capitals. Online bloggers participated in full-force on both sides of the issue. Throughout the debate, democrats repeatedly tried to bring the argument back to what would really be lost if funding were cut: women’s health and lives. Proponents of the Pence Amendment continued to cloud the issue with talk of defunding abortions, gaining support with passionate, pathos-based arguments.
State Representative Jackie Speier Speaks Out Again
During the debate over Planned Parenthood’s funding, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California made an extraordinary speech. Rep. Speier abandoned her prepared speech, and, in an unprecedented revelation, announced that years earlier she had aborted a pregnancy due to medical complication. The congresswoman, who served 18 years in California State Legislature prior to becoming a Congresswoman, was the first California representative to give birth while in office. Speier’s disclosure was in response to the republicans’ defamation of Planned Parenthood and abortion-rights supporters.
In an exclusive interview with BirthControlNews.org, Rep. Speier responded to the final budget agreement.
“I am thrilled the Senate rejected an amendment that would have cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. Reducing access to family planning and health services for women is not the way to balance a budget.”
Planned Parenthood’s Response
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, sums up the organization’s reaction to Congress’ final budget,
“This vote is a major victory for women’s health and the millions of women who go to Planned Parenthood for health care.”
President Richards also applauds members who voted against the Pence Amendment.
“This extreme proposal was rightly rejected by Democrats and Republicans. In addition, members of Congress who support abortion rights, as well as those who oppose abortion rights, voted against this proposal, which would have denied women family planning and would have resulted in an increase in unintended pregnancy.”
This increase in unintended pregnancy and the costs associated with that, as well as the cost of increased rates of cervical and breast cancer that would not be detected early in Planned Parenthood exams, had many people wondering how the Pence Amendment intended to save any money in the long run. Jackie Speier pointed this out,
“In fact, for every dollar the government spends on family planning, it saves almost four dollars in return.”
What Now for Planned Parenthood?
Planned Parenthood has formed an Action Fund to continue their efforts to retain funding for programs and rights for American women. The Action Fund’s current objectives are
- Focusing on key state races to elect legislators who will fight to protect the right to privacy and a woman’s right to choose.
- Targeting governor’s races, so that we can elect statewide representatives who will have the courage and wherewithal to oppose and veto legislation like this.
- Mounting aggressive grassroots political efforts in key states like Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.
BirthControlNews.org believes every woman, man and family deserves access to birth control and has the right to reproductive health and family planning services, and we will continue to fight until that is a guarantee for all Americans.