The GOP has waged a longstanding battle with Planned Parenthood, ostensibly over its abortion services. However, that procedure represents just three percent of the organization’s services, and by law, taxpayer money already cannot be used for abortions. Planned Parenthood does, however, receive $450 million in federal dollars to provide other services to low-income and uninsured people, including cancer screening, treatment of urinary tract and yeast infections, contraception services for men and women, and treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
Republican legislators have successfully shut down the health care provider in several states and continue to target it even in states where it does not provide abortion services. One strategy has been to attach provisions to seemingly unrelated bills ranging from highway construction to education that would defund or limit access to the organization. In 2015, they nearly shut down the government over a spending bill that included funding for Planned Parenthood. Most recently, a bill providing $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus died in the Senate because Republicans attached a provision barring Planned Parenthood from receiving any money to prevent unwanted pregnancy in states affected by the virus, which can affect pregnant women and damage fetuses.
This fall, the Obama administration proposed a new rule that would end the government’s interference with Planned Parenthood. The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a rule stating that states cannot withhold Title X federal family planning money for any reason other than the provider’s “ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.” In other words, the new rule would protect the organization from political interference.
Title X is a program that provides basic preventive health care and family planning services for 4 million low-income Americans, 85 percent of whom have incomes below $23,500. Planned Parenthood receives $70 million a year in Title X grants to subsidize contraceptives and cancer and sexually transmitted infection screenings for low-income people. Title X does not allow any money to be used to pay for abortions.
Planned Parenthood has praised the rule, with its president, Cecile Richards, saying, “Women in nearly half the states in this country have faced political attacks on cancer screenings, birth control, and other basic care. This rule makes it clear that politicians
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