Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) has moved to remove state funding from Planned Parenthood, bringing the number of states to cut funding from the family planning and women’s health center to four.
Alabama and Louisiana ended their contracts with Planned Parenthood earlier this month, and Utah cut funding on Friday in response to accusations that the organization illegally profits from selling fetal tissue. Despite five separate investigations that have found these claims to be entirely false, as well as investigations in other states such as South Dakota and Georgia that have concluded no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, Republican legislators are using the attacks against Planned Parenthood to push an anti-choice agenda.
The Obama Administration warned states this month that defunding Planned Parenthood may in fact be against the law. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a US federal agency, purportedly spoke with officials from Alabama and Louisiana, two states moving to take away funding from Planned Parenthood clinics, warning the officials that doing so “may illegally restrict beneficiary access to services.” State Medicaid programs are federally mandated to cover family planning services for anyone of child-bearing age. According to the Center, closing Planned Parenthood clinics in Alabama and Louisiana may cut off access to these services, violating Medicaid law.
Planned Parenthood serves more clients of publicly funded family planning centers than any other provider in the country. 79 percent of Planned Parenthood health care patients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Ending Planned Parenthood’s services would put women’s lives at risk, especially low-income women who would not be able to afford care elsewhere.
Earlier this month, Senate democrats struck down a bill that would have prohibited all federal funding of Planned Parenthood. “Pure and simple, a public health crisis would be the result of this bill,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) remarked on the floor.
Already some Republicans, including Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), are threatening a government shutdown if Planned Parenthood is not defunded. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said he was “absolutely confident that if Republicans try to defund Planned Parenthood in a government spending bill at the end of September, Democrats will unite against it.” White House press secretary Josh Earnest has confirmed that President Obama would veto any bill to defund Planned Parenthood.
Media Resources: Jezebel 8/15/15; Feminist Newswire 8/13/15; Reuters 8/12/15; RH Reality Check 8/13/15; 7/31/15; CNN 8/4/15; 8/3/15;