A Senate bill to defund Planned Parenthood is expected to come to a vote today.

Sponsored by Republican Senator Joni Ernst (IA), Senate Bill 1881 would prohibit all Federal funding of Planned Parenthood or “any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics.” The Senate will need 60 votes to advance the bill, which is being proposed following the release of highly edited video footage by anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

The CMP’s misleading videos claim that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue. Though this claim has been thoroughly proven as false, and the National Abortion Federation has since filed a lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress, Republicans in the Senate are still using these recent events as reason to push anti-abortion legislation.

Planned Parenthood serves almost five million women, men, and young people each year and provides basic health care like contraception, well-woman exams, cancer screenings, abortion care, and comprehensive sex and reproductive health education – and for many of their patients, the shuttering of their clinics means the end of affordable, accessible care.

“When you say, ‘Let’s defund Planned Parenthood’ …what you are saying is that women, primarily in low-income communities, and many women of color, won’t have access to a wide range of essential health services,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said on the floor Thursday, “because of an ideological desire to control what choices are made between a woman and her doctor.”

Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood health care patients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, and Planned Parenthood serves more clients of publicly funded family planning centers than any other provider in the country. The Feminist Majority has encouraged their supporters to not only vote no on the bill, but also work to increase funding for women’s health care services, and signed on to a letter with the 95 civil and human rights and labor organizations urging every Senator to oppose all efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

Although it is widely believed that the Senate does not have the votes to move this forward, it’s just the beginning of what Senate Republicans are showing that they are willing to do in order to push forth an anti-choice agenda. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has said that Republicans should do everything they can, including shutting down the government this fall, to take away funding from Planned Parenthood.

Media Resources: RH Reality Check 7/31/15; 7/30/15; 7/17/15; Boston Globe 7/29/15; Planned Parenthood by the Numbers; Guttmacher Family Planning and Health Report; MSNBC 7/30/15; Politico 7/29/15

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