House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that Republicans will seek to defund Planned Parenthood as part of their effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
“With this bill, we are standing for life,” Ryan said at his first news conference of the year.
Republicans, of course, have been trying to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood for years because the organization provides abortions, in addition to routine low-cost reproductive health services. Republicans shut down the government for more than two weeks in 2013 over the issue.
But there is already a law on the books that prevents federal funds from paying for abortions, known as the Hyde Amendment. Planned Parenthood only uses federal dollars to pay for routine health services, like cancer screenings, STI/HIV testings, and patient counseling. In other words, defunding Planned Parenthood would simply mean taking money away from providing low-cost pap smears, not abortions.
Ryan mentioned that Republicans will use an arcane process called “reconciliation” in order to defund the group, which allows lawmakers to bypass the regular legislative process on certain issues having to do with spending and taxes. This is exactly what House Republicans attempted to do last year when they tried to repeal Obamacare before President Obama stepped in to block it.
Republicans’ effort to defund Planned Parenthood are likely to be helped by the incoming Donald Trump administration. President-elect Trump has said repeatedly he supports defunding the organization (despite acknowledging last year “millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood”) because they provide abortions. He also signed a letter to anti-choice activists asking for their support and promising he would “defund Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions” and vowed to appoint an anti-choice Supreme Court justice.
Democrats slammed Ryan’s proposal.
“This is a priority for the Republicans, so I just would like to speak individually to women across America,”said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Thursday afternoon, according to CNN. “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.”
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